|st joseph and the christ child, el greco|
March 19th. The Feast of Saint Joseph. A man mentioned only a handful of times in the Bible, and who, in many places, is forgetten about until Christmas. Somehow he has escaped falling into obscurity, and is known to be humble, obedient, and caring. He stood by Mary, his pregnant fiancee, never doubting (or at least, never voicing his doubts) that she was to become the Holy Mother of Jesus, providing for her, Jesus and the rest of their offspring, protecting them from harm, following divine instruction to keep them all safe. Joseph was not your average Joe, but a righteous man. A good father. A role model for fathers everywhere.
Fitting then, that here in Spain, Saint Joseph's Day is Father's Day (and, I learned, he also happens to be one of Catholic Canada's patron saints). We've spent the last few art sessions at school making bookmarks and learning a song for fathers or grandfathers, and today is a national holiday. Gifts are given, meals are shared, and time is spent honouring Dad.
Although Spain is technically a secular state, I like that many holidays here are steeped in tradition rather than being set on arbitrary dates. For me, it adds solemnity, a certain weight, to the celebrations, making it more difficult to scoff at days like these as being just occasions of Hallmark Consumerism, rather than days of intentional focus and reflection, of purposefully demonstrating love and appreciation.
Today holds special meaning for Tall Guy and me this year as we'll soon be parents. It's a time for him to consider what his new role as Father means for us as a family, and for me to express love and gratitude for how he has been caring for Baby and me during the past months. While we're not having a huge celebration (Baby isn't here quite yet!), we are going a parenting class with our midwife and tonight we're going out for dinner, a kind of Father's Day Warm-up.
Tall Guy doesn't have much experience with children (what do you mean babies can't hold up their own heads?) but I have no doubt that he will become an excellent father. He might not have a divine line on which angels call and give him parenting advice, but he is humble and trusts my judgement and experience, knowing we both have a lot to learn on this journey and trusting that we'll work it out together. He is supportive and caring, attending all kinds of appointments and classes, listening to my concerns and telling me he knows I will be a good mother. While I read and talk to Baby, and obviously have a more physical connection, he's getting things ready and bonding in his own way, from finding the best monitor and installing safety devices to researching the best diaper brands and making sure the fridge is full.
We're marking the start of a new tradition (Father's Day in Canada is on the third Sunday of June; this is our first child) and I look forward to celebrating Tall Guy as he grows into fatherhood during the years to come.