Tuesday, May 6, 2008
What Will You Be Doing Sunday?
The earliest known Mother’s Day celebration was in Ancient Greece when people paid tribute to Rhea, the mother of the gods with honey cakes, wine and flowers at dawn. Not a bad way to celebrate! In Middle Ages Great Britain Mothering Sunday was the first Sunday in Lent and servants were sometimes given the day off to visit their mothers. Mother’s Day in the United States was the idea of Anna Jarvis in 1906, two years after the death of her own mother. By 1909 it was being celebrated in all 46 states and became a national holiday in 1914.
Around the same time that Anna Jarvis was getting Mother’s Day established in the United States, another American, influential to all of our holidays, was getting started. His name was Joyce C. Hall. In 1910, at age 18, he dropped out of high school and began peddling postcards in Kansas City, MO. In 1921 his brother joined him and they formed the Hall Brother’s, Inc, the predecessor of today’s Hallmark Corporation and changed our notions of holiday celebrations.
Like Christmas is for many adults, Mother’s Day can carry a host of conflicting emotions for women. Over ten million American women are single mothers, many of them caring for children too young to shop for a card or flowers for mom. Without an involved/evolved dad around to take the children out on such an errand, the day can pass little noticed. For these mothers, Mother’s Day seems designed to point out how alone a single mother can feel. The same can be said for Americans who have lost their mothers. The first Mother’s Day or Father’s Day after the loss of a parent, can be a killer.
There is another group of mothers for whom Mother’s Day brings heartache. I am speaking of the women who gave up their children at birth, many of whom have never had a day pass without thinking about the child they gave away and wonder how that little one’s life turned out. For good or ill they never saw the first smile, the first steps or the first day of school. Some of these mothers and children are being reunited now, but the loss of those years will last forever.
For many children (regardless of age) Mother’s Day means brunch and flowers or candy. This year, as I have for each of the last ten years, I will be driving to the Long Beach Peninsula to be with my mother. We will have brunch at home instead of braving the crowds. Some of my children will be joining us. One year, when they didn’t, I arrived back home to find my boys had decorated the dining room and cooked dinner at the behest of the middle son. Don’t tell me about maladjusted middle children! That was my most delightful Mother’s Day ever and made up for a host of lousy ones.
What do you do to honor your mother on Mother’s Day or what do you hope will happen come Sunday? If you’re a mother, how do you plan to spend the day? If you’re a father or husband, what plans do you have for your own mother and the mother you live with?