Father’s Day is Not About Me, and That’s Okay.

Celeste Headlee
3 min readJun 20, 2021

Let’s get the disclaimers out of the way immediately. Holidays can be intensely personal for some. Perhaps there is personal tragedy or joy associated with a holiday that make it meaningful and sensitive. You should celebrate holidays as you want to. You should throw a party or write a blog or stay at home and watch TV.

What many people choose to do is write a post on Facebook. This is especially true on Father’s Day when social media is packed with black-and-white photos of dads in uniform or faded snaps of men swinging small kids in the air or helping them build sand castles. And these wonderful memories are usually accompanied by warm message of love and appreciation. I love Father’s Day and Mother’s Day because I get to look at someone else’s happy memories and feel their gratitude.

This past week, one of these posts had the following response from a friend of mine (I’ve altered the text a bit, for privacy): “I wish I had happy memories of my dad like you do. My dad was abusive and then left my mom and me. So, Father’s Day is always sad for me.”

I understand, generally, where she’s coming from. Father’s Day is a little sad for me, too. My dad died in a submarine accident when I was 9 months old and I never knew him, but I longed for him all my life. I had to ask a neighbor to go with me to the Father-Daughter lunch at school. I had two wonderful grandfathers who did all they could to meet that need, but I’m well aware that it’s not the same.

Yet, I still would have advised my friend not to make that comment. Remember that social media is not about what we’re thinking and feeling, it’s the thoughts and feelings we think we should share with others. Not all of our thoughts and feelings, no matter how powerful, should be shared on Facebook or Twitter.

If I were to post about my dead father, it would make all my friends feel a tiny bit guilty that they were privileged enough to have a loving, and living, dad. And they’d also feel obligated to comfort me. “I’m so sorry, Celeste,” “Hugs from California!,” “Call me if you need to talk.” I would grab the spotlight and focus it on me and my grief.

That’s not to say that I can’t post about my deceased father if I like, but I never do. Father’s Day is so wonderful for most of…