If we really celebrated Mother’s Day

Did you receive a Mother’s Day card this year? If so, it was one of 133,000,000 sent, according to Hallmark.  And if you got a gift along with the card, it added to the $19.9 billion spent every year on this holiday.

As for trying to get in a restaurant to give Mom a relief from cooking today, if you haven’t made a reservation forget about it. Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year to eat out.

It wasn’t always this way. Yes, Mother’s Day has been celebrated down through the centuries, all around the world. Yet our modern celebration in America didn’t start out as a day to honor mothers.  Ann Reeves Jarvis organized a group of women in the 1850s to lower infant mortality from contaminated milk. These work clubs later tended the wounded from the Civil War.

After the war, Jarvis and other women held Mother’s Friendship Day picnics to unite former foes.  They were pacifists who were tired of sending their sons to war. Julia Ward Howe wrote a proclamation in 1870 calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace (Brian Handwerk, National Geographic, May 2014).

It begins:

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.

Here’s a link to the rest, if you want to read it in full: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/howejwriting/a/mothers_day.htm

The holiday we know today as Mothers’ Day was the dream — and then nightmare — of Jarvis’ daughter, Anna Jarvis, who started the observance in Grafton, W. Va., in 1908 to honor her own mother. Through her efforts President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday in 1914, to be held on the second Sunday in May.

Alas, like Christmas, the holiday soon became a retailer’s bonanza. Jarvis was horrified at the commercialism, and spent the rest of her life fighting it. She eventually lost her inheritance and ended up in a sanitarium where she died in 1948 at the age of 84.

I love Mothers’ Day. I love the gifts and cards, and phone calls from the kids.

But I also wish the original group of mothers had succeeded in reaching their goal. I wish there were no war, and not one mother’s son would ever have to go and fight.

Seems to me $19.9 billion would go a long way to fulfill that dream.





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