Stephen M. Flatow

About those Father’s Day cards

Americans love our “card” days. Greeting card days, that is. There’s the “winter,” “seasonal”, dare I say it, Christmas card. Mother’s Day ranks at the top I am told. We send them because we are trying to say “I care” or “I love you” or “thanks for your patronage.” More likely it is that Hallmark and American Greetings do a good job of tugging at our hearts, giving us a little or a lot of guilt, and reminding us to think of that special someone.

The best cards I ever received were those before I turned 13. They were addressed to “Master Stephen Flatow” and were from my Aunt Ceil and Aunt Rita. They were best because they usually contained a $5 bill.

$5 in the 1950s and early 1960s was a lot of money, and growing up as I did working for 25 cent tips at my uncle’s’ fruit store and babysitting at 50 cents an hour, the value of money was ingrained in me. Even today, $5 is still a lot of money to me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ll spend $5 on a fancy cup of coffee – skim milk, no whip, please – because that’s the price. And I don’t shake my head when I realize that the 5 cent pack of gum is now heaven-knows-what, or the 25 cent price of admission to the Arion Theater in Middle Village is now $6 or 7, with a senior citizen discount, at the locale multiplex. And the value of the money doesn’t stop me from throwing $5 bills at my grandchildren when they lose a tooth just so I can make the tooth fairy look bad for leaving a dollar under the pillow.

With another “card” day upon us, this one Father’s day, I thought of some of the cards my five children have given me over the past 40 years. My children do think alike in some respects, and their selection of cards is one of them. I always have a hard time finding cards about noisy bodily functions, but they’ve found them time and again.

They’ve also found cards that poke fun of my foibles. One of my favorites was “the toaster is broken and I thought WWDD (what would dad do?”) So, of course, you open the card and there’s the message “so I kicked the #@$%(@# toaster down the stairs.” Surely, an exaggeration, but not by much and as a result of their subtle prodding I now tend to just yell at the broken toaster before I buy a new one.

I know (hope?) I’ll get cards this year on Father’s day, but I realize I no longer need them because I have something greater. My cards are now the living and breathing kind in the guise of my children, including the sons- and daughter-in-law, and my 16 grandchildren. Just being who they are is enough to say “happy Father’s Day!”

And who could receive a finer Father’s day card than that?

About the Author
Stephen M. Flatow is president of the Religious Zionists of America- Mizrachi (not affiliated with any Israeli or American political party) and the father of Alisa Flatow who was murdered by Iranian sponsored Palestinian terrorists in April 1995. He is the author of "A Father's Story: My Fight For Justice Against Iranian Terror."