How Not to Celebrate Mother’s Day


Payel Islam

Jason Li ’19 cooked for his mother in celebration of Mother’s Day, instead of opting for an expensive gift.

Who was the mother of Mother’s Day? It was none other than Anna Jarvis, who, ironically, was never a mother herself. Today, Mother’s Day is celebrated throughout the world as sons and daughters gather to show appreciation for their mothers. However, Mother’s Day should not solely be about buying presents, and Anna Jarvis would certainly agree.

“I think that Mother’s Day is about spending time with your mother. The time and memory shared with someone important in your life is much more valuable than the gifts,” said Jason Li ’19.

Ann Reeves Jarvis, Anna Jarvis’s mother, died in May 1905. Three years after her mother’s death, Anna Jarvis organized a memorial ceremony in appreciation for her mother, and all mothers in general, at the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in West Virginia (which later became the International Mother’s Day Shrine). In attempt to establish Mother’s Day as an official holiday, Jarvis wrote letters to newspapers and politicians. Her efforts paid off and on May 9, 1914, the ninth anniversary of Jarvis’s mother’s death, President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday of May to be Mother’s Day.

Soon after Mother’s Day became a national holiday, businesses saw an opportunity to commercialize it. Card companies, florists, and other enterprises began to sell Mother’s Day-themed presents and encouraged celebrants to purchase said gifts for their mothers. Upset with the newly insinuated material emphasis, Anna Jarvis fought against the commercialization of Mother’s Day and hoped to rescind the holiday altogether.

Unfortunately, Jarvis’s attempts were unsuccessful and today, Mother’s Day seems to be synonymous with gift purchasing. In 2017, 93% of celebrants were planning on purchasing a gift for someone, each spending an average of $186.39, according to Hallmark. Although many of these individuals are adults with a source of income, the amount is still quite hefty to show appreciation for one’s mother. People seem to forget that the price tag alone does not measure the thoughtfulness of the gift or appreciation for the recipient, nor does it capture the true essence of this holiday.

“I think that Mother’s Day is about spending time with your mother. The time and memory shared with someone important in your life is much more valuable than the gifts,” said Jason Li ’19. “Nothing can replace the happiness gained when you celebrate a day with the person who has cherished you since the beginning.”

If you should not buy your mother overpriced flowers, expensive gifts, and cheesy cards, what exactly should you do on Mother’s Day? Isabella Crawford ’19 suggests helping out with chores, such as cleaning the house or gardening.

“My mother loves to garden, and the bulk of her work is usually around the same time as Mother’s Day. What better way to show my appreciation for her than to help her with her favorite spring activity?” said Crawford.

If manual labor is not quite your forte, simply taking your mother out for a walk or a brisk jog will suffice.

“Last year, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my mother, and we walked around for hours talking. It was really fun, and I want to do something similar with her this year,” said Maeve Hogan ’19.

If neither of these options work, simply exchanging a heartfelt “Thank you” or “I love you” with mom can be far more worthwhile than the hunt for the ‘perfect’ (and potentially expensive) gift.

Every Mother’s Day from here on out, let us keep in mind that our mothers have looked after us our entire lives and deserve more than any sentiment a greeting card or an expensive handbag can provide. In the words of Anna Jarvis herself, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”

Although this may seem like a harsh message, the intent is to emphasize the importance of creating significant memories with your mother, rather than opting for a thoughtless gift that has little to no sentiment.