Sunday, May 10, 2009

Flowers, Cards, and Candy Are Not the Essence of Mother's Day

From "101 Really Important Things You Already Know, But Keep Forgetting" by Ernie J. Zelinski (2007), Pg 219-220

As much as I loved my mother, it will come as a surprise to some people that over the years I didn't buy her flowers, or candy for Mother's Day. I did buy her dinner, however, and spent quality time with her every Mother's Day. Perhaps you should do likewise.

Truth be known, you don't have to feel guilty about not buying gifts to help your mother celebrate Mother's Day. Not buying your mother cards, flowers, or candy to help her celebrate this special event is not about being stingy and saving yourself a few bucks, however. There is a much better reason. We have to go back to the origins of Mother's Day to place this matter in proper perspective.

Anna May Jarvis was just two weeks shy of forty-two, working for a life insurance company in Philadelphia, when her mother (Mrs Anna Reese Jarvis) died on May 9, 1905. It was the second Sunday of the month. The next year Anna May Jarvis made her life goal to see her mother and motherhood honored annually throughout the world. Jarvis felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while she was still alive. She hoped Mother's Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.

Two years after her mother's death, Anna Jarvis and her friends began a letter-writing campaign to gain the support of influential ministers, businessmen, and congressmen in declaring a national Mother's Day holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation from the U.S. Congress to establish the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day forevermore.

Ironically, the commercialization of the day she had founded in honor of motherhood - today it is the biggest business day of the year for U.S. restaurants and flower shops - was not what Anna May Jarvis had envisioned. Jarvis wanted people to spend a lot of quality time with their mothers and let their mothers know how special they were.

Sadly, Jarvis, who never married and was never a mother herself, retired from her job at the insurance company to spend her remaining thirty-four years, and her entire fortune of over $100,000, campaigning against the commercialization of Mother's Day.

Whenever she could, Anna May Jarvis would speak out. She was known to crash florists' conventions to express her distaste for their "profiteering" from Mother's Day. Eventually too old to continue her campaign, she ended up deaf and blind - not to mention penniless - in a West Chester, Pennsylvania, sanitarium, where she died in November 1948 at the age of eighty-four.

"Why not give your mother flowers, cards, or candy?" you may ask. "Flowers," declared Jarvis, "are about half dead by the time they're delivered." As for candy, Jarvis advised, "Mother's Day has nothing to do with candy. Candy is junk. You give your mother a box of candy and then go home and east most of it yourself."

"Well, then what's wrong with cards?" you may add. Jarvis felt that "a maudlin, insincere printed card or a ready-made telegram means nothing except that you're too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone else in the world."

Tell your mother the truth about Mother's Day and you won't have to spend money on flowers, candy, and cards to help her celebrate her special event of the year. Heck, you don't even have to buy her a copy of this book as a gift. You should, however, make her dinner or take her out to a fine restaurant.

Most important, you should spend a lot of quality time with her. You mother will appreciate this immensely. What's more, if she were still living today, Anna May Jarvis would be so pleased that you celebrate the second Sunday of May with your mother in the true spirit and essence of Mother's Day!

1 comment:

chewingyu said...

Thanks for the insight into Mothers Day. Made me reflect on my attitude too. ...*sniff*