Hines Sight / Do something nice for Mom
Published 9:45 am, Sunday, May 12, 2013
There are some people who believe that Mother's Day is the creation of greeting-card and other commercial enterprises. Those companies may not have invented it, but they certainly have run with it.
Actually, the origin of Mother's Day is an interesting story.
The modern American Mother's Day pre-dates the Civil War. Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia was instrumental in starting "Mothers' Day Work Clubs" to teach women how to care for their kids, according to history.com. "These clubs later became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War," the website states. In 1868, Jarvis organized "Mothers' Friendship Day," when "mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation."
But the "official" holiday was created by Jarvis' daughter, Ann Reeves Jarvis, after her mother's death in 1905. "Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother's Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children," according to history.com. To make a long story short, she got financial support from a businessman to organize a celebration in West Virginia, coinciding with one in Philadelphia.
"Following the success of her first Mother's Day, Jarvis -- who remained unmarried and childless her whole life -- resolved to see her holiday added to the national calendar. ... Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day," according to history.com.
"Anna Jarvis had originally conceived of Mother's Day as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families," the website states. By 1920, after the holiday started to become commercialized, she publicly "denounced the transformation and urged people to stop buying Mother's Day flowers, cards and candies." She conducted a widespread effort "against Mother's Day profiteers," and engaged in lawsuits "against groups that had used the name `Mother's Day,' eventually spending most of her personal wealth in legal fees."
She died in 1948 at the age of 84.
My own family's Mother's Day history was not nearly as intriguing but it had its moments. As a child, I remember making hand-crafted cards for Mom or doing something nice for her, like cleaning my own room. (When I was a teenager, Mom avoided my bedroom -- unmade bed, clothes everywhere -- except for those times when she would throw my belongings, usually left all over the house, into my room and then quickly shut the door.)
There was the time I got her a cat. Yes, the cat really wasn't for her, but she was gracious when she pulled the little creature out of the box. She even named it -- calling her "Nippy" because the cat had this habit of snapping at her. OK, bad idea, bad gift.
Then there was the Mother's Day when I went to the house to see her and brought her nothing but my presence. But I was only following her orders (we did that a lot in my family). She insisted that we didn't need to make a fuss over her. I won't go into the unpleasant details, but she didn't speak to me for a few days. Let that be a lesson to all of you -- never listen to your mother when she says not to go to any trouble.
For subsequent holidays, we tried to take Mom out for the day -- although going to a restaurant on the holiday can be a nightmare. I still giggle when I think of those times we'd ask Dad what we should do for Mother's Day and he'd always reply with, "She's not my mother." Thanks, Dad.
Mom's greatest joy on the big day was just being with her family. Over the last few years, my sister and I took Mom out for one of her favorite meals -- breakfast or pizza. No point in sitting down for a three-course meal when Mom was just as happy having scrambled eggs or a cheese pie.
Mom died in October at the age of 86, so this Mother's Day will be sad. But, as I have since the day she died, I will think of all the good times we had with her -- on Mother's Day and year-round. Mom loved to have fun, and she made our childhoods joyous times. She planned excursions and vacations, she entertained us (sometimes with just plain goofiness) and she cared for us.
No one will ever love us quite like our mothers do.
To all mothers as great as mine, Happy Mother's Day.
Patricia A. Hines is a Fairfield writer, and her "Hines Sight" appears every other Friday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She also can be followed @patricia_hines on Twitter.