Bucks County Herald

Camille Granito Mancuso: Chatterbox

Moving it on Mother’s Day

Chatterbox once discussed a few of the things that may make some of us cringe about how Mother’s Day is currently celebrated.

Yes, we have far bigger fish to fry, but this wee kipper is a still a rock in many a shoe; even social media has reminded us of this lately.

Mother’s Day was a holiday created and campaigned for in a simpler time and with far more familial and personal interaction than flowers and cards across the miles. It had a brief flirtation supposedly, with the ancient Greeks, and in medieval England, but Mothers’ Day, as we know it, only came to be celebrated when Ann Marie Jarvis dedicated, in her own mother’s memory, a day off for all mothers, and worked to make it happen.

Unofficial until her campaign ended in this national holiday in 1914, Mothers’ Day was determined, in a simpler time by a quieter people, to consist of prayer, a simple day off for hardworking mothers, a single carnation for the moms to wear, and loving, handwritten letters from children.

Then, as now, in keeping with the pursuance of profit, it quickly became so commercialized that Jarvis spent the rest of her life campaigning to have it removed as a holiday. Profits already being captured, it, of course, has remained. We have lost that original reason for the day, not just to the worship of money, but to life at high speed so typical of America.

A few weeks ago, many people remarked about how generic the religious celebration of Easter has grown. Based strictly in religion, it’s still sincerely observed by Christians but, in America, it isn’t the full-day observance it was just a generation or two ago. It’s been diluted and festively embraced by many, much like Christmas has.

There are egg hunts on the White House lawn, and at public venues around the country, not to mention bunnies, chocolate, cards and roasted legs of lamb. Even where the religious roots are kept by those who work to keep them, most often the ceremony is followed by egg hunts, chocolate, and lamb dinner anyway.

Now … as surprising as it is to find out there’s a mandatory school, sport, or extracurricular event on Easter, a holiday rooted in religion, it’s far more surprising to find activities scheduled on Mothers’ Day – a national holiday. Sacrificing it, or any holiday weekend, to our child’s sports team, debate club, or Scout troop, is past annoying; gives a good day the wrong vibe.

Geared toward not just giving Mom a work-free day of attention and pampering, many mothers get gifted a spa certificate. Sadly, though, the restaurants are mobbed, signaling that if mom doesn’t cook, no one does. Still, often, other mothers wait the tables, or chef in the kitchens. A simple dinner at home, some desserts purchased in advance, and no work for mom, seems a fun way to go.

Sure, for some moms, how Mothers’ Day unfolds may not be a sensitive issue. For others, especially those who have “worked” holidays for family or income, it may be a very sore spot.

Worse, this year, Mothers’ Day weekend was also college graduation and move-out day on some campuses.

These must be held a weekend, or even a half week, earlier or later. After all, long road trips, dragging a trailer, and moving kids out of dorms, isn’t what most mothers would choose to be doing on Mothers’ Day. What about professors who are moms too, attending another ceremony?

To top off my own Mom’s Day weekend, we returned home to find that we’d missed a visit from some local officials, canvassing for an upcoming election. We all love chatting with our favorite candidates or their supporters, or chewing on those whose views we don’t share, but no one should be ringing doorbells and pushing our political buttons on a holiday weekend.

Most of us live each day, with so much on our schedules, trying to hit too many marks for too many people and too many reasons. Even recreation seems to have hit the point of no-fun overkill. Holidays really should be a true open day. For some of those obligations, we may need to make some noise for that to happen. And yes, this may be just a kipper in life’s big barrel of fish but it is food for thought and worth a fry.

Now, Father’s Day is coming. Let’s hope there’s no travel game or karate match and we’ll resist asking Dad to change the oil in the mini-van.

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