Planning a fete for a fantastic father

May 19, 2008 at 10:34 p.m. ET

As hard as I try to be a good parent, I can't do it alone. My husband, my children's father, is a wonderful example of good parenting. I find that we balance one another as parents very well, and I am appreciative of his efforts. That's why, while he claims to expect little in the way of Father's Day events, I like to make it extra special.

Father's Day Gift
Growing up, Mother's Day and Father's Day were days when my parents' individual quirks were on display. While my father made a point of doing something for my mother on Mother's Day, my mother did pretty much nothing for my dad. Her reasoning was that he was not her father. I can see her point, and I can see Dad's, but it was a little awkward nonetheless. Regardless of where you fall in the spectrum on the day, I think Mother's Day and Father's Day are great opportunities for special family time.

We have developed something of a ritual for Father's Day at our house. While my husband expects very little (other than some extra snooze time), he believes any gift should be hand-made by the kids and that a day out together as a family is the best gift.  I,on the other hand, like to make it nice. Yes, the kids make gifts, but the kids and I also choose a gift that is or is related to something he can do with the kids. In our area of the country, Father's Day weekend often is one of the first really warm, lovely weekends of the summer, so we have a big outing day.

A full day, with something for everyone

We start the morning off with letting Daddy sleep in while we prepare a nice breakfast that typically includes lots of fresh fruit. Perhaps Woody will make smoothies while Alfs helps me with Belgian waffles and Sunshine helps set the table. When he's ready, we eat on the porch and present our gifts. Handmade picture frames, coupons for helping in the yard and the like. Then a slightly bigger gift from all of us. I almost always really catch him off guard on this one.

After our lazy breakfast, we head out. After a stop at the home center for some plants, we head down to his mother's grave an hour or so way for our annual clean-up and planting of annuals. It may sound a little morbid, but it's really not. It's actually a very happy time, with lots of memories shared.

Then we head out to a bigger activity, finding a light lunch on the way. Sometimes the activity is a museum, sometimes it's something like a climbing gym, but it's always something to be done together.

As mid-afternoon creeps to late-afternoon, we start to head toward our dinner place, stopping at a local winery along the way. The late afternoon sun casts a lovely glow on the acres of grape vines. We taste a couple of this year's selections, often purchasing a bottle of sparkling wine for our upcoming anniversary, then let the kids run around the lawn outside the tasting house. We often manage to sneak in a family picture here, and lots of candid pictures of the kids.

At dinner, at a seasonal restaurant on a small harbor just as the sun begins to really sink toward the horizon, we eat slowly, savoring the day, thinking about the summer ahead, and (hopefully) laughing.

It's a bit of a drive home, but that's okay. We arrive home not too long after the kids' regular bedtime, and get them straight up to bed. Usually we are pretty beat, too, and fall asleep not long after.

The final gift for the day, however, comes about a week or so later. I take many pictures on Father's Day and I compile them into a book at My husband loves these small photo books and takes them to his office. I get a second copy of the book for home because the kids like looking at it and remembering our outings, too.

Everyone benefits

A Father's Day like this may seem extravagant, and perhaps it is in a sense. But in a different sense, it's a Father's Day gift for all of us. We get time together as a family and reaffirm why we chose to be parents in the first place.

I am planning this year's Father's Day now. I don't know exactly how it will look, but we'll follow our general ritual (weather permitting for some of it). I'm so fortunate to have such a great partner in this parenting adventure, and my kids are fortunate to have such a great dad. We'll make it a day to remember.

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