The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift

Mom on Mother's Day

Family celebrating Mother's Day
Increasingly, national holidays seem to be more about buying candy, jewelry, cards, and turkey, than they are about honoring the spirit of the holiday itself. Mention Memorial Day, and most people will only talk about their trip to the beach. Mention Christmas, and Jesus takes a back seat to Santa. Mention Mother’s Day, and the floral industry starts to salivate. Speaking of which, the internet has been inundated lately with advertisements for this Sunday’s big holiday. Not only are we encouraged to buy presents, we’re even coerced into thinking that by doing so, we can elevate our status within the family. I cite as an example, the company who promises that their product is “The Mother’s Day gift to make you the favorite child.” It’s enough to make Anna Jarvis spin in her grave.

Jarvis, a native of West Virginia, was widely credited with having created Mother’s Day. Her mother (also named Anna) had opposed the Civil War, during which time she cared for wounded soldiers from both armies. In honor of her mom who passed away in 1905, Anna launched a campaign to make Mother’s Day a national holiday. Then, while Congress dragged its feet, Anna staged a Mother’s Day celebration of her own in 1910. A year later, every state in the Union recognized moms on a special day, and in 1914, President Wilson officially declared the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

It didn’t take long for merchants to capitalize on and profit from what was supposed to have been a loving and solemn day of tribute. By the early 1920’s, Hallmark was churning out Mother’s Day cards, while confectioners and nurseries were making a killing from sales of candy and flowers respectively. Ms. Jarvis did everything she could to curtail the commercialization of Mother’s Day, including litigation and boycotts, but to no avail. Now, as a result, Mother’s Day isn’t so much a holiday as it is a cottage industry.

Don’t misunderstand me. There’s nothing wrong with giving your mom a gift on Mother’s Day. When I was a kid, I made special gifts for her in school, like the wooden decoupage jewelry box, which she pretended was the finest such repository ever crafted. Later, as an adult living far from home, I routinely had roses delivered to her house for Mother’s Day, but I should have done more. Mom passed away in 2014, and I still miss her very much. I also carry a tremendous amount of guilt for failing to give her the one gift that would have meant more to her than all the flowers in the world. The gift she deserved was having the family together on Mother’s Day, but I lived in a different city and was consumed with work, so I sent flowers instead of myself. Those are visits I can never get back.

The other day I read an ad whose headline was, “Give Mom the perfect Mother’s Day gift”. The advertiser was offering a spa day, or a dinner for two. I can’t recall which. But what I do know is that it took me six decades to realize what the perfect Mother’s Day gift really is. It’s not the money you spend on Mom that matters, it’s the time you spend with Mom that matters.

This Sunday, don’t just have flowers delivered to your mother. Deliver yourself too.

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