Hallmark holidays like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day can tend to trigger deep emotional wounds.
What if our mother left us at three years old, cancer took her life, or we don’t have a delicious, romantic butterfly-feeling love to celebrate on V-day?
For some of us, such days are full of unwanted reminders. We experience social media envy as we scroll by the picture-perfect mother-daughter duo, seeing beautiful bouquets of lush red roses, and public professions of love, all acting as a big fat reminder of what we don’t have.
July 25th brings yet another Hallmark holiday. In October of 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Congressional Resolution that approved National Parents’ Day by law.
In the United States, National Parents’ Day is observed on the fourth Sunday in July and is devoted to supporting and celebrating the role parents play in our lives.
When I noticed Parents’ Day fell on my birthday this year, my immediate thought was, “This was a Hallmark Holiday we can all get behind!” Even if we had a childhood that looked similar to the dysfunctional Gallagher family on the TV show “Shameless,” we are alive. And we are alive because two humans procreated.
I appreciate that doesn’t automatically mean those two people showed up to be what qualifies as “good” parents, but—they gave us life, and that is a gift that keeps giving every damn day.
Whether we are, or have, birth parents, foster parents, no parents, adoptive parents, teachers who seemed to be parents, there is a way to celebrate the day.
Following are 25 ideas in honor of National Parents’ Day on July 25th, to celebrate the parenting archetype and all it blesses us with—the good, the bad, the ugly, the love.
In Celebration Of…
Our Parents who Raised us With Love
1. Schedule time on the 25th to make new memories—maybe revisiting something from childhood, like a nostalgic game of Chutes and Ladders.
2. Put together a photo book, scrapbook, or a collage of images and words that depict fond memories.
3. Write a thank you letter acknowledging the good that parent figures have brought. Show grace by letting them know we understand they did the best they could.
4. Write a poem or short story in their honor.
5. Spend time sorting through and appreciating old family photos.
6. Recreate a family photo in similar poses.
7. Send a movie or song list representing their presence, and ask for the time to watch or listen together.
8. Do something to give back; arrange a massage, have a dinner out, have the lawn mowed, or clean their home.
9. Think about a meal from childhood that brings back fond memories. Have it sent to the home, or take the time to cook the same meal if possible.
10. Any of the above apply, and adding a simple “thank you for choosing ___,” is a beautiful offering. This can be via a card, note, voice memo, lawn sign, written words on a pancake, or another creative avenue.
For Our Guardian Angel Parents in Heaven, or for Parents who have Guardian Angel Children in Heaven
11. Numbers one through five above apply. The letter option can be a beautiful offer, burning it when complete and imagining the message sent to them.
12. Set up a memorial altar in their honor, with photos and energetic items like crystals and candles, or other favorite items they cherished when they were with us.
13. Take a walk or hike in nature, breathe, and speak to those loved ones in heaven out loud or silently. Observe nature; the shapes in clouds, images in trees, objects in leaves. Being in awareness connects us to our loved ones in heaven in small, surprising ways.
Step-Parents we Love
14. Let them know there is love for them. A simple thank you can go a long way, written or spoken.
15. Reflect on the good they have brought that has made a difference, and let them know it’s seen and appreciated.
Step-Parents we Have a Hard Time Loving
16. Let them know a need, a desire, or something of interest. It may inspire them to show up differently. If talking isn’t an option, write a letter to burn, or talk to the bio parent about it when possible.
17. Give grace. We all show up how we were taught to act. Have compassion, and try seeing it from their perspective. Reflect on, “What if they are doing the best they can?”
Others Who Acted as Parent Figures Growing Up (Teachers, Parents of Friends, and so on)
18. Reach out via email, letter, social media, and share a memory you have with them. Let them know how much of an impact they had.
19. Any of the above can apply. We can show appreciation by simply thanking them for their care.
20. Ask foster parents what help might bless them.
21. Donate to a local foster organization in the foster parents’ honor.
Parents Who We May Have a Strained Relationship With
22. Practice the Ho’oponopono—the traditional Hawaiian forgiveness and reconciliation process by Morrnah Simeona. It is a unique system that can help us break free in forgiveness. It entails repeating “I Love You, I am Sorry, Please Forgive Me, and Thank You,” to the small parts of self. You can get information here.
23. Write a thank you note in gratitude for the lessons on how not to show up. Revisit the tough lessons learned, then recommit to goodness today. We do not have to send the letter.
24. We can study our DNA and recognize the blessings that have been passed down, along with the lessons our ancestors encountered before us.
25. We can shift our perspective by exploring the idea we choose our parents. I highly recommend listening to this YouTube video by one of my teachers, Dr. Sue Morter. It’s called “the bus stop conversation”:
I hope there is at least one point above that will inspire celebration on the 25th. Please share which one if so!
No matter what, we can all celebrate our parents for giving us the greatest gift of all: life. I am certainly celebrating my life.
In closing, I want to share as of July 25th 2021, I will have made 41 trips around the Sun. I am infinitely grateful to my mom and dad, Susie and Tony Rossi, for helping me to make that happen. They have blessed me with a childhood full of fond memories, activities, support, and love.
Did I experience trauma? Sure. We all have. Most of our births and initial moments in life, being squeezed out of a small canal, are traumatic, not just for us. In full transparency, my parents are only now learning about a pretty traumatic event from my childhood, which they could have never prevented.
In closing, I want to say thank you to them.
Mom and Dad, you are two amazing people. Parenting is hard; I know you gave it your all, did as you could, and these 41 years have been learned and blessed thanks to you giving me life!
Thank you, I love you, and Happy National Parents Day!