I always hated Hallmark Father's Day cards. My dad didn't fish (not with me, anyway, except if you count that one time we went out on a half day boat trip from the Jersey Short when I was four, and my parents both spent the entire time in the bathroom ... my father for seasickness, and my mother because she was seasick and pregnant). He did wear a tie, but never as an executive; he wore a tie to school when he wore a suit, or on Sundays, to church. He didn't like sports. He loved his grill, but it was a Japanese kamado grill built into a cement table that he'd laid himself ... not exactly the all-American image of the dad with his hot dogs and Coleman. He did muck around with home improvement, but not in the way that the cards pictured it, either. No, I remember thinking that my father didn't fit any of those cards, didn't look like the images on any of those cards (as a dark-skinned Spaniard, he was often mistaken for people who lived much closer to the Equator), and most importantly, didn't fit the sentiment of those cards. Father's Day didn't fit us, at least, not the way everyone seemed to want us to celebrate it.
And now, it doesn't really fit my husband, either. He does fish, but he only wears a tie in extreme circumstances (important meeting at work). He doesn't follow sports. He mucks around with home improvement and with our grill, but not in the way that those things are pictured.
What I noticed today on Facebook was the variety of ways people were describing fathers. And the wide variety of ways people were choosing to celebrate their fathers, their children, their grandfathers. Not everyone went to a restaurant, or felt pressured to buy flowers. A lot of people were doing things with their dads, spending time with them in a way that was active, hands-on. And though I never resolved my own complicated relationship with my dad, I was glad to see so many people openly ditching the Hallmark depiction of the holiday.
Why, I wonder, are we so bound by the conventions of Mother's Day, then?
Turnips and Chard
This is a CSA meal that even my father would have eaten; the secret, of course, is the handful of ham thrown in. Inspired by Cooking in Sens.
6 hakurei turnips, cut into cubes
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cooked ham, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups chard leaves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Brown the turnip cubes in the olive oil. Add the ham and garlic,
then cook until the garlic is aromatic. Add the chard, bay leaves,
vinegar, salt and pepper, then cover and steam for 4-5 minutes.