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This Father's Day Will Be Different

Father's Day is the only holiday I can think of where the person being celebrated has more work to do in preparation for the celebration than the people celebrating him! If you need a refresher on how the day goes, let me paint the picture: Dads across America wake up to kids jumping on them. Following such an abrupt awakening is breakfast, coffee, and the fan-favorite Father's Day card (bonus points for you if it's a last-minute kid-drawn card). Then later—let's get a drumroll—the infamous hot dogs (or your choice of protein) on the grill! But wait, who will cut the grass?

If you think I'm complaining, you wouldn't be wrong—but don't take it the wrong way. I love celebrating this way with my family, but when my kids look back, I don't want this celebration to blend in as just another backyard BBQ.

So, this year I decided to do things differently. I wanted to make this Father's Day one that my kids could look back on and say, "Wow, that was the best day ever!"

But what does that look like, exactly? We could go out for woodfired pizza or gourmet tacos, or maybe I'll plan a sunset hike—possibly a beach day soaking in the sun.

The more I thought about it and the longer the question sat in my mind, the harder it was to decide. Analysis paralysis started to kick in.

"Well," I thought to myself, "if I can't decide on anything, I'll just do everything!"

As I went over the itinerary of this super ambitious day with my wife, I could see the "you're crazy" look in her eyes. And I knew, at that moment, that operation "make Father's Day fun again" was a go.

Ciao, a little Italian pizza eatery, was our first stop. This was a special place my wife and I often visited before we became parents. Even now, just thinking about it, I can smell the woodfire and taste the salted crust. Afterward, though not initially part of the plan, we stopped at a playground. There's something about throwing in even more spontaneity with a playground pullover—if only to see excited faces in the rearview mirror.

Just as the kids were content with their time at the park (and definitely not expecting more), we hit the road to visit a beach we don't often go to. Stepping onto the beach, we were immediately greeted by a white-sand bluff, Mt. Rainier in view across the ocean, and a stretch of wading water. We wondered aloud why it took a special day of the year to make the trip out. By this time, the sun was high enough that we could all use a dip. Peeling our layers off, we splashed and waded together in the refreshing water for hours.

We finished the day off further down the island with tacos and a drive down a windy road that hugs the hillside and follows the shore. I parked the car for our final adventure of the day: a sunset hike where the bluff edge trail overlooks the Salish Sea. The whole way, we were cracking dad jokes, kicking up dirt into the golden haze, and making our shadows dance like trees in the breeze. It was a success!

This Father's Day was perfect. It was filled to the brim with activities for the whole family, but the best part was being present in those moments: holding my son's hand as the waves tried to grab us, seeing my sons laugh as we raced up and down the shore, and taking in a sunset from atop our favorite bluff edge. The second-best part was being able to come home with captured images and videos of the day that would last a lifetime. When our memories begin to fade, we'll always have something to help remind us of that one Father's Day adventure we all shared: "Remember when Dad woke us up, rushed us to get ready, jumped in the car, and drove us all crazy? No, drove us on a crazy adventure?"

Backyard BBQs aren't all that bad, and I enjoy cutting the grass in preparation. There will be plenty of "normal" years to look back on, but this year will not be one of them. We'll all be able to look back on this Father's Day and remember with glee just how adventurous we were—the year we lived Father's Day to the max.