President Wilson declared Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1914.
Celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in May, Mother’s Day has blossomed into a $23 billion/yr industry.
President Nixon declared Father’s Day a national holiday in 1972 to be celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in June. Annual spending for Father’s Day is a comparatively paltry $12.7 billion.
No president has ever declared a Children’s Day as a national holiday. Internationally, there have been a few non-starters. In 1954 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution declaring a Universal Children’s Day to be observed every November 20th. McDonald’s later co-opted the idea but not the name and declared November 20th World Children’s Day. UNICEF and the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences declared the 2nd Sunday in December to be International Children’s Day.
Japan celebrates Children’s Day as a national holiday on May 5th.
We in the United States acknowledge the futility of recognizing Children’s Day on only one day of the year. We know that, realistically, every day of the year is a Children’s Day.
Which brings us to Family Day. Mom and Dad each get a named holiday, children get every day as a special day, and families get……nothing. You have to go to Saskatchewan to get anything close to a dedicated Family Day, and they don’t even bother to shutter government offices for the day.
Without so much as a Hallmark card to mark the occasion, is it any wonder that families are so disconnected? How can we be expected to value each other without a marketing campaign reminding us at least two months in advance?
So it is up to us. We have to take the initiative and declare our own Family Day.
Let’s go through the mechanics.
You can call it anything you want: Family Reunion, Family Gathering, Family Bash, Going to Uncle Joe’s Backyard for Burgers and Beer. The name is not important, but the guest list is. Invite everyone within the 4th degree of consanguinity. For those who don’t have their legal dictionary handy, that means you and the following relatives: parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, great nephews and nieces, aunts, uncles, great-aunts and uncles, and first cousins. And don’t forget to invite their spouses or significant others (but emphasize not to bring both).
Once you have the guest list, pick a date and time. Do not ask for suggestions. This is not a time for committees.
- Pick a place. Free is best.
- Pick pot-luck and paper plates.
- Send out invitations.
Do not do this: ask for donations to help defray costs, plan to serve hard liquor before 9 a.m., sue any of the potential attendees before or during the gathering.
At the function, make every effort to sit and talk to the generations older than you. They have wisdom and experience. Then talk to the generations younger than you. They have wisdom and no experience.
Repeat every year.
Just don’t tell Hallmark.
Virginia, a 1982 SMU law school graduate, has advised clients for over 35 years. For more information, visit hammerle.com, and for newsletter sign-up, email firstname.lastname@example.org. This column does not constitute legal advice.