In a week overflowing with sugary reminders to pay attention to your mother, I confess to a secret abhorrence of Mother’s Day. I’ve now discovered I have surprising company – in the form of the very woman who created this obligatory holiday, Anna Jarvis.
In 1908, Miss Jarvis, who was childless herself, came up with the idea to have a special day to show your appreciation of your mother. She could have been a nifty PR woman, for she began a national letter– writing campaign that mushroomed into historic success.
However, as the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.” To her dismay, the campaign worked too well. Candy companies were quick to see how the day could sweeten their profits, florists bloomed with ads about proving your devotion the floral way, and as for greeting cards….! They probably constitute the weightiest mailing of the year, with the possible exception of Christmas. All this has resulted in a reputed $20 million annually spent by dutiful (cowed?) offspring.
Within a decade of starting what she intended as a simple commemoration, Anna Jarvis was enraged at what she called the “commercialization” of it. She voiced her outrage verbally and in newspapers via on-target comments such as: “Confectioners put a white ribbon on a box of candy and advance the price just because it’s Mother’s Day.”
Ironically, what was meant to delight mothers has put an emotional burden on them. Will they or won’t they receive tributes from their children? What if one child dutifully follows the rules and another child shuns the holiday? Does this prove that one loves you and the other doesn’t? (I’ve heard this lament from too many tearful mamas.)
This also puts unnecessary pressure on sons and daughters. Wire flowers? Take Mom to dinner? What’s enough — or not enough? In view of the Hallmark Holiday this has become, I applaud Ms. Jarvis’ advice to simply write a letter. “Any mother would rather have a line of the worst scribble than any fancy greeting card.”
Still, you better know your audience. A writer friend took hours to compose what she thought was a beautiful letter, only to have her mother ask, ”You couldn’t afford a card?”
In the complicated world of mothers and daughters, finding that right card can become a time -consuming challenge. I spent hours searching for ones that didn’t define my mother as a (fictitious) angelic being. I finally found the perfect card. In large letters it read: ”Mother, you made me what I am today. . . GUILTY!! “ I couldn’t resist buying that card, but not to send! It’s a pertinent warning now that I’m a mother myself.
The mandatory hoopla also overlooks the obvious fact that if you genuinely appreciate your parent, you shouldn’t need a special day to tell her.
BOOKS: “Widow’s Walk” – available through iUniverse.com;”Turning Toward Tomorrow” – xLibris.com; “Ten Women of Valor” – CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com. Also Amazon Kindle.