It is a most American story: The acknowledged founder of Mother’s Day in the United States grew to decry the holiday as too commercial.
That founder was Anna Jarvis, who pushed for a special day for mothers in memory of her own mother, an observation that began in 1908. Jarvis was hardly the first to call for a day to honor moms, but it was her concept that took hold.
The official U.S. holiday followed in 1914, designated by President Woodrow Wilson as the second Sunday in May “as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”
As Mother’s Day grew in popularity — and became a commercial success — Jarvis worked to remove it from the calendar. She had envisioned a simple holiday emphasizing love and respect, not one that measured love by showy gifts.
Even Jarvis’ favorite white carnation — her mother’s favorite flower — grew more expensive as florists realized that Mother’s Day could be a gold mine.
And so it continues.
Prognosticators predict Americans will spend some $31.7 billion on Mother’s Day in 2022. Popular presents are flowers, candy, a meal at a restaurant or jewelry. Anything for mom, right?
And what mom doesn’t love a beautiful flower or a handwritten card from a child? Breakfast in bed? Yes, just do the dishes after. The best presents don’t come in a box — they are realized in time spent together and memories made. Or that rare and precious thing, time spent alone.
Moms deserve a break. In 2022, they have just been through two years of a pandemic, juggling responsibilities at home with work obligations in an unprecedented manner.
They had to find child care when centers closed or while grandma became sick with COVID-19. They had to try and work from home while their children were in virtual school on the couch. They had to make a paycheck stretch after a layoff or when hours were cut.
It has been a rough couple of years, and the catastrophes don’t seem to be leaving anytime soon.
In New Mexico, hundreds of mothers will face a day where they put on a brave face while they wonder whether their homes still exist. They will celebrate being alive, being with loved ones, having their children close — while spending Mother’s Day in a hotel room or an evacuation shelter as fires threaten.
It continues to be rough out there. That’s why holidays that bring families together are more important than ever, especially after a stretch when coming together was unsafe.
New Mexicans will gather this Mother’s Day 2022 with their families. They will remember recent years when they could not join for fear of spreading a deadly disease. They will laugh and hug, and probably cry a little. Other tears will be shed, for mothers gone from this Earth and for an ache that doesn’t go away. And remember, not every person can celebrate a mother. Sentimental holidays can be a hard day for some.
Still, Anna Jarvis was right in the end. For Mother’s Day to be special, it doesn’t have to be over the top. Love isn’t measured in dollars. Being together is what matters, whether in the backyard or the evacuation shelter.