T   o be honest, Father's Day was never a really big deal in our house.

Mother's Day? Yes.

Father's Day? Not so much. And that was mostly because I didn't feel the need to make a big deal out of it. My birthday, either, for that matter.

Truth is, I more or less view Father's Day with the same cynical eye I use for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and a handful of other made-up-by-Hallmark holidays for the purpose of selling greeting cards, candy, flowers, tools and all the other stuff we buy on those days for the people we love.

My theory has always been that we should honor our loved ones with kindness and respect 365 days a year, not just on a day arbitrarily selected by the same people who have turned Christmas into a commercial mess, rather than a focus on its original purpose.

So I believe it's fine to buy a girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, mother or father a nice gift on Feb. 14, May 12, June 15 or any of a bunch of other days a year. Take your pick. Spread out the fun. If you love someone and want to let them know, then give them a gift on a day when they might least expect it.

Better yet, you don't have to buy anything, just say "I love you."

I know -- bah humbug on me.

I have to admit, however, that I've become especially fond of a tradition in the making at my daughter's house. Stacy and her husband, Steve, have three children, ages 9, 6 and 4. And for a number of years now, instead of her husband and children going all out to buy her a gift for Mother's Day or, for that matter, she and the children going all out to buy him a gift for Father's Day, they've reversed the process.


On Mother's Day, Stacy commits to spending a day with each of the children -- separately -- doing something they want to do with her. Her Mother's Day gift, in other words, is a day spent one-on-one with each of her kids.

And the children get to choose. She took Lorelei, for example, to Dutch Wonderland. Anya spent the day with her mom at a game arcade. She and Ben went to Hershey's Chocolate World. One year, Mom and Anya spent the day at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Another year, it was a science museum. Sometimes it's educational; sometimes it's just fun.

For Father's Day, Ben spent the day with Dad at a zoo. In a couple of weeks, my son-in-law and Anya will spend a day at Bushkill Falls in the Poconos collecting rocks for her rock collection. Last weekend, he took Lorelei to the New Jersey Aquarium.

It could be time spent at a movie. Or a bookstore. Or Dorney Park. Or taking in a show in New York City. You get my point.

I happen to think that's a great idea. I wish I'd thought of it myself.

Anyway, this year, my son will be giving me a terrific Father's Day gift. If not the best ever, it's certainly one of the best. And I didn't even realize it until earlier this week. He's getting married Saturday, the day before Father's Day.

It's perfect.

Because my son is in his mid-30s and has never been married. There have been a few long-term relationships over the years, but none that made the grade. I was starting to think I might not live long enough to see him get married.

So I'm tickled pink. And the young woman he's bringing into our family is just a breath of fresh air. She fits into our group perfectly. We love Kate and welcome her with open arms.

Now I know Matt never gave a moment's thought to the notion that his wedding could also serve as a Father's Day gift. It's just not the sort of thing that would come to his mind. And I doubt Kate thought about it as a Father's Day gift for her dad, either.

But that's how I look at it.

And one of these years, it's going to happen that Father's Day and Matt and Kate's wedding anniversary are going to fall on the same day. Right?

Hey, better let me look it up just to be sure.

Well, go figure. It happens next year -- Father's Day falls on June 15, 2014.

It's an easy date to remember for this old guy.

And the perfect Father's Day gift.

Not that I need one, but ... it sure beats any greeting card I've ever gotten.

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhicks@yorkdispatch.com.