Father’s Day always sneaks up on me by surprise. Growing up, I moved so often that I still don’t have a good grasp of when Father’s Day is. I know June 19th is the American Father’s Day (thanks to good ol’ American commercialism), and I remember that August 8th is the Chinese Father’s Day (mainly because it’s a homonym for baba). I also know that the Father’s Day my dad celebrates is neither, but I have a tough time remembering when that one is because, like Mother’s Day, it changes every year.
I just looked it up, and this year it apparently falls on November 13th (exactly 6 months after mother’s day for the sake of equality). [Here’s a list of dates for Father’s Day around the world.]
What normally happens every year is that I know I won’t remember the correct Father’s Day, so when marketing campaigns in the US remind me for months at a time that Father’s Day is coming (another reason to shop! More sales!), I just send my dad an e-card so he knows that I did think of him at a Father’s Day, even if it wasn’t the right one. Sure, I hear some grumbling around Christmas about the missed November Father’s Day, but then I remind him that he received a card when he least expected it—and wasn’t that a nice surprise? Daddies are easily appeased.
This year, I could actually celebrate Father’s Day Sunday with my dad. Unfortunately, he doesn’t celebrate this Father’s Day. Most of Beijing does, though, and I realized that my husband, who’d only get to celebrate his second Father’s Day, will not be able to celebrate with our son. Actually, we haven’t discussed which holidays we’ll celebrate, and it’s not like my son has a clue that he’s missing out on daddy-son bonding time (that doesn’t begin till he enters a school, I think), so I suppose it’s not a big deal.
Besides, it probably won’t be the first Father’s Day that my husband misses given the amount of traveling he does for work. I travel for work as well, and I recently read an article about a mother who travels between two cities so that her children from a previous marriage can remain with their father and community, while she treks for hours each week to her new husband and infant (splitting her time in two locations). Maybe long-distance is the new modern family.
Whether you agree or not, I think Father’s Day should still be celebrated, even if the father in your family is far away—it’s only fair! I would still be expecting something even if I were away. So, I’ve gone ahead and rounded up “digital gifts” that we can still make and send in time for Father’s Day this Sunday, June 19th:
A quick gift for the Busy Dad:
- Call him. Better yet, video call him via Skype, Face Time, or WeChat.
- Send an e-card! Choose one that will fit your Dad’s personality. I picked a music video e-card where you can paste your dad’s face on it, and then I made a rap video of my husband (subscription required).
- That book your dad’s wanted to read? Buy him an e-book on iBooks or Kindle and send it to his email!
- Make a music playlist to either educate your dad on “what’s in”, or to satisfy his own musical tastes, on a site like 8tracks and send him a link!
- Create an animated emoticon of your dad’s face (or your face) and send it to him via WeChat! Here’s another one you can try!
- Play a game together online (either multiplayer, or just the two of you) via computer or even mobile. WeChat has a selection of free games you can compete on, but there’s also Words with Friends (iOS), Chess, Monopoly, Beyond Speed Limits (Android), Pogo, etc.
A personalized gift for the Sentimental Dad:
- What would be the perfect Father’s Day with Daddy? What would you want to do? Go to the movies? Visit the arcade? Go to Happy Valley? Hit the pool? Plan your perfect day, then on Saturday, take your phone or camcorder (or gopro, if you have one) and record your own video tour. Remember to talk to your dad like he’s right there with you. At the end of the day, edit the footage and send it to daddy so that he’ll know what he’s missing out on!
- Plan a movie date for Father’s Day by choosing a movie on Netflix, or other similar site, and then watch it simultaneously while connected via video chat.
- Start writing a Twitter-like digital letter (on your phone) when you wake up on Father’s Day, and then add one sentence at a time to it throughout the day with a “location”. You can do this via WeChat with location pins, the occasional sight, or a photo snapshot as well.
- If your dad likes fishing, schedule a fishing trip early in the morning, and sit together while connected via video or voice (WeChat, Skype, Face Time, or a simple phone call will do).
- Reflect on what your dad nags at you to do the most, and then make him personalized vouchers or coupons, whether digital or printed out, and promise that you’ll do the chores when he presents the coupons. Find a sample here.
- If Daddy’s going to be gone for a while, or is often away, create a digital photo album for him to browse and remember you by (because Facebook is too much of a distraction). The same pictures you’ve selected can be made into a calendar, photo book, t-shirt, mug, or cellphone cover at your local print shop (a gift for when he returns!)