The Most Important Holiday, or Else!

In many of my past columns you have read about different holidays that we all celebrate and the usual chaos that ensues, well at least at my house. These are the big ones: Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. These are what we call family holidays and have a broad target. If you mess up one aspect of the celebration, there are plenty of others to gloss over your screw up. This is not the case for birthdays, anniversaries, and the biggie, Mother’s Day. Mess these up and the rest of the year is a list of “I’m sorry” gifts that can break you. Today we will focus on Mother’s Day. Let’s look at a brief history.

Cartoon woman in a robe and slippers holding a shovel with a red ribbon on the handle. Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans (they all wore dresses then, so who could tell), but the official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis. Following her mother’s death, she conceived Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker, in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. That same day, thousands of people attended a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia (I knew it tied back into shopping somehow).

Following the success of her first Mother’s Day, Jarvis resolved to see her holiday added to the national calendar. Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians (back when Washington politicians actually cared what you think) and her persistence paid off. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. There was much rejoicing by another little company at the time called Hallmark. That’s not an actual fact, but it sounds about right.

Meanwhile, we all struggle with what to get dear old mom that will keep us from feeling guilty and in her good graces rather than getting the “well at least I have other successful children” smile. Remember when the Playdough ashtray was the perfect gift, even if your mom didn’t smoke? Well, if you are over twelve, and thanks to Pinterest, nothing you will ever create will look as good as what moms can do, so forget it. It’s a doorway to failure on an epic scale and a ticket to that smile we talked about earlier. This goes double if the mother is also your wife.

Homemade says that you’re too cheap. It says that you wouldn’t even take the time to go get a Ross gift card. Framed pictures of your family are also not the greatest gift ever. Look around her house, she whas loads of them, and it’s just one more thing to dust. Cooking her dinner or breakfast usually translates to a lot of mess for her and taking her out to eat with the entire family is really more like a tour of duty. If you try the housecoat and slippers thing you are out of the will or on the couch.

So what are some good ideas for mom? How about a spa day or a shopping spree while you entertain the kids or your dad? Movie tickets so she can see a film that does not have a talking animal in it or a quiet day alone with the Hallmark channel and a bottle of Merlot. The thing to remember is that before they were moms, they were real people who liked real people things. So if you find something you would like, chances are so would your mom. Most of the time a sincere “Thank you for all you do” and an “I love you” in a nice card will go just as far as any gift, but having that gift card from Ross behind your back at the ready can’t hurt. We love you moms, everywhere!

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