Father’s Day has come and gone. My family dutifully celebrated my status as “Dad” by going out for breakfast and, later in the day, ice cream. In deference to the day, no one complained when I ordered only coffee for breakfast and passed up the ice cream as I am trying to drop a few pounds. All in all, it was a pleasant day, once my elder son accepted that I was not going to be seen in public with him dressed like a recently deceased refugee from some apocalyptic nightmare.
If truth be told, I would have planned Father’s Day entirely differently. For one thing, my sons and I would have worked in the yard for about 6 hours before we went out to eat. My wife, however, did not want us to experience the familial discord that would have resulted from my expectation of manual labor from my sons. I really did not want the discord either, but I am always quick to use whatever additional leverage that I have to get my sons working in the yard with me. Nevertheless, more than I wanted yard work performed, I wanted to show my wife that I appreciated her effort. Accordingly, throughout the day, as she told my sons and me what we were doing, I went along graciously and happily, and I ensured that my sons did the same.
Planning celebrations is not an easy task. The planner has to consider all constituencies and make sure that all interests are considered. Planning a meal means planning for all of the tastes and allergies that will be present at the table. Planning a full day of activity means considering the strengths and limitations of all involved and the requisite logistics for accomplishing the days agenda. Most planners know all this.
When planning a celebration for a specific person, however, planners often forget that they are trying to make one person, in particular, as happy as they can make that one person. That means considering what that one person would really want to experience and not what the planner wants to experience. That can often be difficult but to do otherwise is to create an experience, at some cost and expense, which the guest of honor is less likely to appreciate.
If you are the guest of honor at a celebration, it is also important to realize that event planners do not always hit a home run when they try to anticipate the interests, likes and dislikes of a guest of honor. When an event is not necessarily what you might have planned or requested, you need to roll with it and be both appreciative and gracious. It is truly the thought that counts.
At a very fundamental level, events are not about the money spent in organizing them or the cost of the events themselves. Rather they are about the people with whom the moment is shared. Nothing else really matters.
I hope that many readers will see the value in this reminder, but there is one fellow for whom I wrote this column in particular. He sat at the table next to my family on Father’s Day and decided that he did not want to sit outside any longer. Accordingly, he walked away from the table, leaving his apparently pregnant wife and two young children to wonder where he had gone. His wife had tried to give him a pleasant morning with his family, but he did not seem to get that.
To my wife and kids, I thank you for a wonderful Father’s Day. Now about that yard work…
How do you plan celebrations? Do you think about the guest of honor or whatever it is that you want to do? Do you appreciate the effort that others put into planning events for you?