Heads up, kids: It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday.
I was just recently made aware of this myself. Immediately recognizing the appropriate thing to do under these circumstances, I panicked. Questions battered at my overworked brain.
Should I buy a gift or flowers? Does my mother think Mr. T is as funny as I do? Is it okay to send free postcards that are obviously an advertising scheme for 1-800-COLLECT?
Broke-ass college students don’t always have a lot of options. But there is one advantage to being such an unfortunate: intellectual snobbery. It can overcome any obstacle except, perhaps, the elusive rent check.
Google search: “Mother’s Day, commercialism.”
About 2,600 pages match. Most of them are histories of the holiday. I pick the most official-sounding site and start to read.
This English holiday Mothering Day is speculated to be the inspiration for the American celebration of Mother’s Day. As with all things American, it was in the wake of a bloody war that this day of observation was first conceived. In 1872, after the American Civil War had claimed 558,052 lives and wounded over 400,000 more, Julia Ward Howe, author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” called for an annual Mother’s Day for Peace. It was celebrated for the next 30 years on June 2. It was never officially declared a holiday.
In 1908, Anna Jarvis began campaigning to declare an official holiday on the second Sunday in May. Her intention was for it to be celebrated largely in churches; she originally wanted to honor her own mother, a devout Methodist. The idea spread quickly; in 1913, Congress declared the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day.
In the Florists’ Review, the flower industry’s trade journal, it was announced, “This was a holiday that could be exploited.”
This did not make Anna Jarvis happy. In a press release, she asked, “What will you do to route charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and other termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations?”
She went on to protest what she believed to be overly commercial Mother’s Day celebrations. In the 1930s, she was removed by the police from one of her protests. She had been successfully quieted. Now Mother’s Day has among the highest sales of flowers in the U.S. of any day.
Jarvis never married or had children and ended up poor and alone. At the end of her life, she was put in a nursing home. Unbeknownst to her, the bills were paid by the Florist’s Exchange.
I don’t think this is a reason to not buy flowers for your mother this Sunday. But that shouldn’t be it. Write a letter, give her a call, make a silly card. Just let her know that you are eternally grateful for everything she’s done for you.
The only reason I knew it was coming up was because a friend’s mom called to remind her.
Mothers have that way of always knowing just what you need. And they deserve thanks for that. Really, they deserve it every day.
Consumerism tells us that some sort of purchased good is the best way to express that appreciation. Somehow, I doubt that. I think a mother would probably just like to know that her kids still think about her. It shows some time and some thought to make something. That’s not to say that flowers aren’t nice, though.
Mom, I know you’ll read this online: That’s why you’re my favorite mom. Hope it’s getting warm!
Cory Anthony is the Daily Nexus assistant opinion editor.