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A Look Back: Mother’s Day

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By Jolene Hawkins

Looking back to our dear mothers, what words could we use to describe them? Affectionate, accomplished, beautiful, charming, candid, cheerful, delightful, elegant, entertaining, graceful, intelligent, ingenious, lively, lovely, pretty and a great cook, housekeeper, gardener, wonderful at doing several tasks at one time and an organizer.

There, that should just about cover it. Oh, cannot forget taxi driver, taking the kids to all of their different appointments.

We have a holiday dedicated to our mothers. Julia Ward Howe, known for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” promoted Mother’s Peace Day in 1872. It was a way to promote global unity after the horrors of the American Civil War and the Europe Franco-Prussian War.

The first celebration of Mother Day was in 1908 was when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, W.V. President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation in 1914, designating the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honor the mothers and white carnations be given to them on that special day.

By 1923, you see ads in the local newspaper, like that from Frank S Chesbro, owner of the Springville Greenhouse, offering flowers and arrangements for your mother so that you can express tender sentiments that you yourselves may not be able to express.

Simon Brothers in the same year had “Capes, Wraps and Dresses fit for a Queen” for the mothers. Walters Pharmacy offered a fine assortment of Mother’s Day cards and boxes of candy.

In 1934, the United States Post Office issued a special stamp. President Franklin D. Roosevelt personally designed the stamp. The President co-opted a stamp that was originally meant to honor 19th-century painter James Abbott McNeil Whistler and featured the artist’s famed “Whistler’s Mother” portrait of Anna McNeil Whistler.

FDR surrounded the iconic maternal image with a dedication: “In Memory and in Honor of the Mothers of America.” Anna Jarvis didn’t approve of the design and refused to allow the words “Mother’s Day” to appear on the stamp, and so it never did.

Our mothers are special to us and have wonderful qualities, deserving the very best there is for Mother’s Day. Throughout the years, so many presents have been offered. The white carnation was the favorite flower of Anna Jarvis’s mother and is known to be the original flower of Mother’s Day.

“The Carnation does not drop its petals but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying,” Jarvis said when interviewed in 1927.

So from flowers, candy and cards to candles and books to Victrolas, records, radios and camera all can be found in the ads in the papers and in the local stores. Fragrances and perfume along with jewelry soon were seen in the ads as well. Stores may come and go, but the items offered just keep growing.

But what about other countries, as Mother’s Day is celebrated almost everywhere now. Well, in Japan, if you are presenting a gift to your mother, you use two hands — using one hand is said to be sneaky. Give teacups in odd numbers.

In France, you give bouquets in odd number of flowers, so they are easily arranged. They send more personally handwritten notes rather than store-bought cards. If you live in Italy, do not give mums to your mom as they are the flower of mourning.

In Germany, they love to give flowers to mothers, but no white mums or red roses and not, by the way, practical gifts like umbrellas, scissors, knives or anything pointed as they bring bad luck.

In Holland, why tulips of course. If in Australia, bouquets of mums are a good choice but don’t give gladiolas, because they are a symbol for the working class.

On May 12, 2019, make sure to visit with your mother and let her know how special she is to you. You can present her with a simple white carnation and a personal note written by you, or a gift from one of our many local stores.

You can stop by the Lucy Bensley Center, 23 North Buffalo St. in Springville, on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tell us your great story of your mother — and let me know what story you would like to see here — by email us at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com or call us at 592-0094.

Remember you can hear some great old music at the Concord Mercantile, 17 Franklin St., on Tuesday or Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. If you are a member, try to volunteer a few hours each week.

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