How to Solve Father's Day When Fathers Notoriously Want or Need Very Little
We do not celebrate Father's Day in this house. "A waste of time," my old man says. "Save your money," he says. Or, better yet, "pay me back that interest-free loan you needed when you were 23 and rang us up at 4 a.m. from Thailand balling your fucking eyes out because you'd lost your phone and wallet at a party like a dickhead". A real joker, my old man.
Like most people, I believe my dad should be celebrated. Because he does a lot. He's essentially the Ptolemy of low-interest mortgages. He never complained when I, then a child with two left feet, kept on receiving airborne footballs to the face instead of the chest. He shrugs off the seven-hour round trip from Yorkshire to London (and back) like it was signing for a parcel. And yet Father's Day pales in comparison to Mother's Day: a tradition that began in weird, miserable, feudal times to give good old mums a good old treat.
A dad, his kids, and an appropriate gift from a 5-year-old
They absolutely deserve the rollout of the proverbial red carpet, by the way. But when and why did the task of buying for dad become so much harder? Mum: no problem. She likes big bouquets of flowers, even bigger handbags, hair appointments, and Madonna. Dad: The Sopranos. That's... sort of it? And herein lies the problem. Men so often close their social and hobbyist circle as they get older. Where my dad once went boxing, and to the gym, and to intimidating BBQs across town to cut the ribbon on any and every televised sporting event on cable TV, he's enjoying a much quieter life these days. He can't be alone in that.
Despite accepting this new state of being, the pressure for a really great Father's Day gift lingers. To make it worse, there really aren't that many good gifts to choose from. Dedicated shopping aisles (be them physical or digital) are full of trinkets that make Next homeware look like Tom Dixon: mugs, cheap golf paraphernalia, a novelty apron, and, of course, Andy McNab's Bravo Two Zero. My dad will keep a 'Best Dad Ever' pint glass where it belongs: in the eternal darkness of the far reaches of a kitchen cabinet.
A small token will always be appreciated. Men need socks at every stage in life (though keep it simple; nobody finds a funny sock all that funny). If your old man is into golf, or painting, or some other wholesome avocation, then great. Though don't buy something for the sake of it. He won't use those cheap plastic tees with his initials on them. A bassoon-sized paintbrush may be a laugh for all of three minutes, but is it something your dad really needs? Probably not. And won't someone think of the planet! The last thing this drowned world needs is another duff gift buried deep in its muscle.
Our dads, usually swaddled in a modest blanket of financial and self security, want for nothing. That's usually because they've got everything they need. Life's just peachy for boomers and their Gen X progeny! So in lieu of an unnecessary expenditure, or a gift that nobody needs, or asked for, just do something that dad likes to do. That may seem insignificant. But for my dad, and dads elsewhere, a good Father's Day just means a train ride home for some strong mortgage chat, a good beer, and another long evening of Tony Soprano killing rats.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.