Anna Jarvis had a wonderful mother.
In the 1850’s, Ann Reeves Jarvis created the Mother’s Day Work Clubs where moms of the day joined forces to reduce infant mortality and disease through improved sanitation, as well as reducing the incidents of contaminated milk. From 1861 to 1865, during the Civil War, the Mother’s Day Work Clubs also tended to wounded soldiers from both the North and the South.
Young Anna grew up seeing her mom give tirelessly to help others, and in 1908, she decided to honor her mother with a special day (who had passed through difficulties and pain during the natural birth process like all mothers). She encouraged others to honor their own moms in the same way, and thus, Mother’s Day was born.
But Anna never intended her holiday to become the card and gift-giving extravaganza that we now know. To Anna Jarvis, the day was to be very personal and meaningful – a day when you would celebrate your own mom in a very direct and intimate way.
Sadly, the more the idea of Mother’s Day caught on, becoming a commercial coup for greeting cards, flower, and candy companies everywhere, the more upset Anna Jarvis became. She fought hard against the wave of superficiality, spending her time and all of her money to return Mother’s Day to a simple day of honoring and revering the mother in your life.
Alas, it was a losing battle, and Anna Jarvis died penniless and alone in 1948, feeling that this special day she had intended as a personal celebration between a child and a mother had become a materialistic nightmare and a dismal failure.
This Mother’s Day, why not try to celebrate in a way that honors Anna Jarvis‘ vision. Instead of simply calling mom, sending her a box of candy or a bouquet of flowers, or taking her out to brunch, why not try something a little more meaningful? Here are some lovely ideas for bringing back the meaning of Mother’s Day:
1. Cook her a home-cooked meal. If you can’t cook, ask her to join you in the kitchen and teach you some of her delicious secrets!
2. While sharing a meal or drinks, encourage her to share stories of her life. Whether you already know those stories by heart – or generally roll your eyes and change the subject when she brings them up – the fact that you are so interested now could mean the world to her.
3. Remember how much her face lit up when you brought her arts and crafts projects from school? It’s never too late to make her another handmade gift. If you have a particular talent like crochet, cross-stitch, woodworking, polymer clay, or beading, coming up with a lovely, decorative and useful gift might be a breeze. But even if you don’t know what to make, there are thousands of YouTube videos out there to give you great ideas and teach you how to make them a reality!
4. Write her a letter (by hand) telling her all that she means to you. Think of all the people you know who know longer have their mom around for Mother’s Day, and all the things you know you would wish you had said if you still had the chance. Then tell her.
5. If you know that there is something that your mom has been wanting you to do for her but you keep putting it off, Mother’s Day is a great day to do it. Make her wishes happen before it is too late.
6. Write a book in her honor. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy novel (although if you have enough of a story for that, awesome!). Even just a sweet little book of “The 12 Wisest Things My Mom Ever Taught Me” filled with lessons that you learned even when she thought you weren’t listening, would touch her heart in many ways. With Amazon Kindle, publishing is easier than ever. You can even order your book in print form if your mom isn’t computer savvy.
7. Take her on a road trip to a favorite locale or a place she’s always wanted to visit. Even just meandering along the beautiful back roads close to home can make for an enjoyable day. The point is to spend time together, remembering the simple pleasures and seeing the sights. Buy her a silly souvenir as a keepsake.
8. Take your mom on a picnic in the park. Whether you cook the food yourself or pick it up along the way, grabbing a spot under a tree or at a handy picnic table and enjoying the meal together in the fresh air can be a lot of fun. Take a Frisbee or a ball to play catch with. If you play guitar, sing her a silly song.
9. If your mom is no longer living, you can still make someone’s day special. Head to your nearest convalescent facility and tell the staff you’d like to spend time with a woman who is all alone on Mother’s Day. Many people in these facilities are separated from family and just knowing that someone cares can mean the world to them. Give her a chance to talk about her life with you and tell her about your mom. You just might make a new friend.
Whatever you choose to do to honor your mom, remember to make it special. Mother’s Day was intended as a day to show your mom how much she means to you. Find your own special way to let her know, and it will fill her heart with joy.
Happy Mother’s Day!