The third Sunday in June is Dad's time in the sun. And, contrary to what some cynics contend, this holiday was not the invention of a greeting card company - commerical greeting cards as we know them didn't even exist when Sonora Smart Dodd thought up Father's Day in 1909.
- By 1924, the custom had spread through the country, and Calvin Coolidge made the first presidential proclamation in support of Father's Day. Nearly 60 years later, President Richard Nixon made it permanent in 1972, when he requested that Congress pass a joint resolution making the third Sunday in June a National Day of Observance in honor of fathers everywhere.
- Father's Day was the brainchild of Sonora Smart Dodd, whose mother had died giving birth to her. At a time when many widowed men sent their offspring to live with relatives, Sonora's father reared her and her five siblings alone, on a farm in eastern Washington. In 1909, grown and married, Sonora was in church listening to a Mother's Day sermon when the thought struck her that fathers deserved credit, too - especially hers. Through her efforts, Spokane, Washington, held the first Father's Day observance the following year.
- Pamper him with whatever culinary ceremonies he enjoys most, whether it's breakfast in bed, a burgers-and-beer lunch at the local sports bar, dinner at his favorite four-star restaurant - or all of the above. (After all, Father's Day comes but once a year.)
- Eschew the ties, shirts, golf balls and best-selling thrillers. Instead give him something you know he'd love but isn't likely to buy for himself: perhaps Ella Fitzgerald's songbook collection on CD, a drawing he's been admiring in a local gallery, or an autographed photo of his childhood baseball hero.
- Look for clues. If he keeps saying he wishes he'd practiced the piano when his mother told him to, sign him up for lessons. If he reads every issue of "Gourmet" Magazine cover to cover, give him a gift certificate for a cooking course - in France, Italy or Switzerland, if you're feeling flush.
- Give him the ultimate gift: your time. Present him with a gift certificate announcing the plan: dinner and a ball game, a day at the beach, a weekend jaunt to the PGA tournament, a camping trip in the Rockies, or simply an afternoon of side-by-side digging in the garden.
- Make him a scrapbook commemorating "Life With Father" over the past year. Or go all out and make a scrapbook, or a series of them, covering your whole life together.
- Honor your father's memory if he's no longer living. Send a donation to his favorite charity, or lend a hand to a cause he cared about.
- Remember, you needn't limit Father's Day to your biological dad. Do something nice for all the father figures in your life, whether grandfathers, stepfathers, uncles, godfathers, big brothers or that first boss who helped you launch your career.