Mother’s Day is flat out my favorite holiday of the whole year. And the holiday should be shared by aunts and close friends.
It isn’t a new holiday; I suspect people have been honoring their mothers and fathers since time began. In this country in 1907, a woman named Anna Jarvis took it upon herself to make Mother’s Day an official holiday to honor her mother who was trying to help mothers whose sons had died on either side during the Civil War. By May 8, 1914, Congress officially deemed the second Sunday in May "Mother’s Day."
Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on your view—the holiday has become one of the most commercially popular of all time. Anna Jarvis became an activist against this commerce and felt buying a card was lazy in place of a hand-written personal letter or visit when possible. I suppose she was partially right. It is a big, big day for restaurants, spas, cards, phone calls, florists, perfume sales and jewelers. Combined sales are in the billions.
There are many celebrations, festivals and powwows that celebrate Mother’s Day in Indian country. A major Muscogee Creek powwow in Pasco County, Florida to honor LeEstes Keiser Hamm was founded in 1991 by her daughter. Another biggie is the Native Arts Festival in Grants Pass, Oregon (firstname.lastname@example.org); others are in Georgia, New Hampshire and Western Pennsylvania. Now that powwow season has officially begun, many that take place on May 10-11 weekend this year will surely honor Mother’s Day. Check your local powwow listings, maybe your mom would like to go.
Remembering my own experiences of this day in the past, it was not just that big a deal. On Mother’s Day, all I remember as a child was my mom and her brother taking their 90-something-year-old mom and me out for a Sunday ride. No cards involved, but if I played mine right, I might get an ice cream cone after we took Grandma to visit a couple of her old cronies at their nursing homes.
In later years, as I had my own growing family, I asked mom what she really wanted on this day. She said she wanted what all mothers want: time with their children alone to talk. That always turned out well as I made lists of questions about our family and hoped for bits and pieces about her life that she had been stingy with in the past.
She has been gone for over 20 years now, and I don’t go a single day without thinking about her, what would she do or say in this or that situation, did she ever know how much I loved her. I usually get an answer somehow. People who knew my mom and are still around tell me how much she meant to them, how she helped them understand any problem they came to her about. She was exceptional, she was my MOM.
Today, cards are always welcome, even though they have become outrageously expensive. I like the handwritten notes I get sometimes better. Flowers are great if accompanied by a person I made. Lunch with all four of my kids is the very best! I don’t say a whole lot, but I listen well, and they give so much away interacting with their sibs. It’s the best. These days I realize so many people can’t get to see or be with their moms but want to give something special beyond a note or card. Aside from flowers, plants of herbs are nice. Bird seed, wind chimes or favorite foods will always have her thinking about you. Make her breakfast, lunch—face it, anything at all that you give her, even a big hug, will be cherished, and don’t forget she might want to pow wow!
Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: New Native American Cooking, Native New England Cooking and A Dreamcatcher Book. She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.