With father's day on the horizon, many of us are probably going to mark the occasion with a gift and card for dad.
There's a silent section of the population, however, that will spend more time perusing the racks for a suitable card than others. You'll recognise us; we'll be in the shop for some time picking up card after card after card and rejecting each one on the grounds the message written inside is too saccharine for the intended recipient.
You're probably wondering who we are? I'll tell you; we are the stepchildren!
I often wonder who writes such gushing father's day tributes. They might be suitable for your natural father (although I frequently question this), but in my opinion you want something slightly more conservative for a stepfather.
Here's one example of a message you'll find on the inside of a card being sold by a major retailer:
"These few words will never be enough to express a lifetime of thanks...
...for all the wonderful ways that you help, love and show you care
...or to let you know how much you're appreciated...
...for everything you do
Happy Father's Day with love"
How about a card that simply says "happy father's days"? I'm sure it would be a best seller.
It's a trend the greetings card manufacturers haven't caught up on. This surprises me as this particular industry never seems to miss a trick.
Before I married my wife, my (now) mother in law managed to buy a card to a "wonderful daughter and partner". It strikes me the greetings card industry has got to grips with all manner of scenarios but families featuring step relatives; oh no, that's a greeting card no-fly zone.
The truth is I'd consider giving my stepfather a card addressed to "dad" if the wording inside were appropriate. The truth is I'm yet to find a card that would do the job.
Needless to say, I speak from the stepson's point of view and have a stepfather. I'm sure that stepdaughters or those with a stepmother must face the same issue; wanting to acknowledge a relative (albeit non blood), but not wanting to give something peppered with phrases that wouldn't even make it into a bad romantic novel. It's just one of those strange quirks that us stepkids have to deal with.
If you find yourself in Clinton's or WH Smiths and see a bemused individual scowering the racks for a father's day card, point them in the direction of the "blank" section of products. It's a trick I learned many, many years ago.
Personally, I recommend something that has a bottle of wine or a neutral landscape printed on the front. Trust me, you can't go wrong.