Honoring the hand that rocks the cradle
On Sunday, as we do every year, families in St. Mary’s County will join the rest of the nation in celebrating their mothers.
Mother’s Day is pretty typical across many households: The day often starts with breakfast in bed for mom, or maybe a family brunch, followed by gift giving — which runs the gamut from spa certificates to “World’s Best Mom” T-shirts, to handmade coupons that allow mom to get out of doing some housework for the day. For adults whose mothers no longer live close by, it might involve a phone call or, these days, a video chat, or maybe even a three-day weekend with a family trip.
And for others, it might involve a trip to a local cemetery and a prayer of remembrance.
All of these are excellent ways to honor or pay tribute to our mothers. But for those who plan to take the route of wining and dining their family matriarchs this weekend, don’t let the gifts steal too much of the spotlight. Remember the origins of Mother’s Day and for whom this day is meant.
In fact, it was the commercialization of Mother’s Day that initially caused some controversy around the holiday in its early years. Historical sources generally credit Anna Jarvis with founding the tribute day, after she campaigned for it following the death of her own mother. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in 1914.
But flower, candy and card companies as well as charitable groups quickly seized the day as an opportunity to reel in funds, and Jarvis, angered by this, actually spent the rest of her life trying to abolish the holiday she’d created, or at the very least, restore it to its original non-commercialized roots.
“To have Mother’s Day the burdensome, wasteful, expensive gift day that Christmas and other special days have become, is not our pleasure,” Jarvis wrote in the 1920s, according to National Geographic. “If the American people are not willing to protect Mother’s Day from the hordes of money schemers that would overwhelm it with their schemes, then we shall cease having” the holiday.
For Jarvis, Mother’s Day was a day set aside to visit with and thank our mothers. And to her credit, it still is, even if commercialization of the special day was inevitable in our consumer-driven economy. This year, the National Retail Federation estimates Mother’s Day spending in the United States will reach $23.1 billion, wi00th 86 percent of Americans participating in the celebration and doling out an average of $180 each.
It may seem extreme to some, but we could also look at it as a testament to how eager people are to find some tangible way — that is, with a price tag — to show their mothers how much they mean to them and how grateful they are for all they’ve done for them.
And certainly, it’s a huge booster day for the nation’s economy and, we hope, for our local small business owners as well.
So by all means, shower Mom with gifts and treats this Sunday. But don’t forget to take the time to really talk with her and spend time with her, and show her your appreciation is from the heart and genuine.
That’s our message to all the sons and daughters out there. And to all the mothers who’ve raised them, we recognize it’s often a difficult, exhausting and thankless job, and we thank you for selflessly doing it anyway. Enjoy this day set aside strictly for you, and especially enjoy the love — and generosity — that comes with it.