As with many holidays, Father’s Day often sends people scrambling for the store in search of the perfect gift. In fact, when President Richard Nixon signed the proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday in 1972, he may have had re-election in mind. The holiday had the secondary effect of boosting support from retailers who stood to profit from the revenue from gifts and cards, which now totals more than $1 billion annually.
But just as research shows that experiences tend to make people happier than material possessions, the gifts that are individual, created and experienced make Father’s Days most memorable. Here are some locally inspired ideas for how to recognize that special dad, stepfather, grandfather, great-grandfather or stand-in dad:
Bill Michaels of Fly Creek Cider Mill described a weekend-long Father’s Day special event at the Mill where dads can be treated like kings. A coupon available online treats dads to a free ice cream sundae. Lunch at the cider mill can include special items such as pot roast panini sandwiches, cider slushes or cold hard-cider beverages. Michaels described the visitor-friendly venue as a kid-oriented setting with space to play, nap in the sun, and sample loads of delicious products.
Michaels also suggested visiting The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown to celebrate the day for dads. This weekend’s “Step Back in Time” weekend event will feature historic pickup trucks. Or, the daring can challenge dad to a spin on the “Vomit Comet” aboard the museum’s Empire State Carousel.
For adult children and their fathers, Michaels suggested taking Dad on the Cooperstown Beverage Trail. Visitors who make it through all six locations on the trail can receive a free glass at the end — an offer detailed in the trail’s new “QUENCH” magazine, available at all locations. More information is available at www.cooperstownbeveragetrail.com. Just remember to establish a designated driver for the day’s travels.
Father-friendly fare like homemade pretzels may be a way to get Dad into the kitchen, instead of keeping him out, on this holiday. Art-educator-turned-artisan-baker Anne Gohorel of the Andes bakery Bread Fellows suggested this easy baking project as being suitable for many different ages. Whether you bring Dad in on the fun of creating these edible, versatile and universally loved snacks, or just treat him to the finished result, he’ll be sure to appreciate it. If pretzels aren’t Dad’s thing, there are plenty of other baking projects to consider, such as pita bread, Gohorel suggests.
A tribute can take on many forms, but poet and teacher Bertha Rogers, founder of the Bright Hill Center in Franklin, spoke about the power of written words to express gratitude, admiration and love.
Rogers described how the process of writing a poem for one’s father creates a tribute that goes far beyond the sentiments of a store-bought card. To get the creative juices flowing, Rogers suggests having a picture of father near by. Catch hold of a memory of him when you were a certain age — a specific day or even a moment in time. Remember where you both were, what kind of weather it was, what were you both wearing.
Bertha offered this poem, which she wrote for her father, Kenneth, as an example of how words can carry memories and emotion far beyond the combination of letters on paper.
I see him often now, carrying empty washed pails, his faded green jacket fitted close to his collar, his brown-billed cap down, half-hiding serious eyes.
It is cold out there, where he walks, and November.
He passes out of sight, shows from between red buildings, opens barn doors, offering steam to the chill.
Laying his face to Holstein’s flank, he strips milk from swollen teats, sings comfort to his cows, the child in the corner.
The barn is warm and deep and full with smells.
He carries pails of sloshing milk, calls the child to him, calls, hurry, it’s late, and I hang on the back of his seat in the old black car all the way, all the way as he tells me birds and I spell hawk, speak sky.
For children in the Oneonta Jump Start program, Father’s Day will be a busy one. Heidi Tanner-Brantley, director and teacher of the fitness-based child care program, explained that the children in the program will host a celebration field day for dads, with fun activities to keep everyone moving.
Dads who participate in this year’s activities will receive handmade trophies created by the students — which would make a nice way to cap off a day of Father’s Day activities for any dad. A previous Father’s Day celebration at the Jump Start program paired photos of children holding a sign that read “My Dad Rocks!” with a hand-painted rock paperweight gift, Tanner-Brantley explained.
Starting a Father’s Day tradition can provide a way to give a gift that’s part object, part experience. Amy Williams, director of the Cullman Child Development Center in Sidney, said that this year at the center some of the children will be working with plaster of Paris to make stepping stones for their fathers with their hand print featured. Williams suggested that this is an idea that makes a great annual tradition as the child grows up and the hand size changes. Another group has decorated planter pots, filled with soil and started seeds as a gift for dad.
Fabric paint on a plain cloth apron can declare dad “king of the grill.” Cleaning up the garage can really show you care. Washing and vaccuming the car can be a very special treat. Or sing a song, talk to Dad, ask him to tell you stories of his childhood (remember to write the tales down!). These are just a few ways to show Dad how much you appreciate the role he plays in your life.