Happy Awkward Day (photo: Jim Bob Blann / Flickr)

The reaction to hearing this morning on one of the new shows to the term “Father’s Day Weekend”! most likely is one of those learned ones, developed many years after believing there was a real Easter Bunny that brought me eggs. Okay, I got dyed eggs while neighbors got candy; but no, I was once so innocent it never occurred to me that I was being had.

Not long after my kids got into the pre-teen years I did learn to take everything with a grain, or maybe a shaker, of salt. That’s when Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, even birthdays became artificial inducement to give gifts; and in our somewhat sophisticated view, especially as my kids made sure we knew, we had a superior and totally wise attitude. I know what you’re thinking, Mom and Dad were not supposed to expect gifts, but actually it was better than self-serving. My kids still gave those gifts, but larded with presentations like “Happy Commercial Invention for Buying Things Because You Bore Me, in the good sense, Mom!”

In my experience, the kids born in the sixties and later had a different relationship with the ads they were subjected to. It was for my kids very different from the ones we, new to television and its intensive development of a young audience for the purposes of selling us stuff they shouldn’t have, grew up with.

The breakfast in bed routine never got off the ground in my cookstove challenged family. Dinner out was much easier on everyone all around. Now that they’re out of town, of course, that often means a visit or a gift card, or something that comes in a package. Usually it’s funny, but it’s always sweet. I do feel guilty, but not so guilty that I return anything.

What is new, or is old, in your family’s experience with those commercial appeals to go out and buy? Are there traditions you like, or awkward attempts to do something appropriate to make the Mom/Dad feel special?

Birthdays, celebrations of the usual holidays, have you got ways of handling them that try to avoid the commercialism they so often demand? Of course, the t-shirt with the dragon on it with a card that says “You Rock” works for me. It’s the best kind of reminder that I’ve got a special place in the kids’ consciousness. However, really, as they know well, my favorite gift these days is a visit, or when that’s not possible, a call.

How do you handle events that aren’t really special, do you discourage these commercial pressures, and how does that work?