Did you think about what you gave your Father? What your child made for his father for breakfast this morning? Did you think about the phone calls your children haven't made yet?
You. Your. His. My. Mine.
Do you hear the singular pronouns? Did you use them?
Possibly the biggest difference I have found in living in Vanuatu is the community focus of celebrations. Father's Day may or may not have been celebrated in each house. I don't really know. It wasn't much celebrated in ours, that's for certain.
But the community celebration has been planned for months. It was both meaningful and beautiful.
When we first came to Vanuatu, I felt this sort of community thing was a bit, well, superficial and that if I didn't actually say it, it wasn't true for me; that words and actions done on my behalf were not really mine. But I have changed, and now I think I understand more that even if things are said done as a community, they are still meaningful for the individual.
Together we celebrated our fathers. We prayed for our fathers and we encouraged them to keep going in their responsibilities under God to care for, teach and love their families. We even apologised for the times we make that difficult!
Community celebrations are more likely to be inclusive, and yesterday, that was a great strength. Fathers who are away from their families were involved (even including three visitors), as well as those who don't have their own children but share the responsibility of caring for the children around them. None of these men, though their day may have been tinged with sadness, were left staring at empty chairs.
Staff and student fathers at Talua on Father's Day 2014.
All the shirts were made especially for the occasion. Salu-salus were hung. Poems were recited. Songs were sung. Speeches were made. Dances were danced. Prayers were prayed. And much food was eaten. Much to my satisfaction, there was no cake to be cut, but instead two enormous lap-laps following the local tradition and significance of shared fellowship.
Was it just a reason to get together for a good meal? Well, yes, of course it was a reason to get together and celebrate. But it wasn't just that. Not at all.
And I wish my Dad had been there.