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Mother's Day blues

So, what did y'all do for your mother yesterday, folks?

I helped my brother plant some hosta and other ornamental ground cover around my mother's tombstone.

The ground cover was not just for my mothers tombstone. It was for my father's and brother Bill's tombstones as well. Oh happy day.

I never cared much for Mother's Day anyway. Just one more day to have to worry about finding the right gift that Hallmark obliges us to present on this day. Okay, Hallmark didn't actually make this a national holiday. Woodrow Wilson did that with a presidential proclamation. 36 U.S.C. § 117.

I would happily skip both Father's and Mother's Day because I find giving and receiving gifts incredibly difficult. It makes me practically psychotic. (Which might partly explain this post.) Yesterday inspired me to start thinking again about finishing the rant I began three days before Christmas last year, "Giving and Receiving Gifts Is a Hellish Absurdity." I didn't work on the rant today because I was hit by a different inspiration, to rewrite an article on motivated cognition in science that I have been trying to publish for seven years. I am making good progress and feeling a little calmer today. So maybe the essay on gifts will have to wait a little longer.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 16th, 2006 01:02 am (UTC)
Mother's Day is just another day...Nothing Special
Giving and receiving gifts has always made me uncomfortable, too. I wouldn't say I get psychotic about it, but it is definitely difficult. That is why years and years ago we decided that our gift giving would be limited only to our children. My husband and I don't even buy gifts for each other. We like it that way. There is no pressure, no hassle, and no disappointment.

If gift giving and receiving is such a hellish experience for you, why even bother doing it?
May. 16th, 2006 01:14 am (UTC)
Re: Mother's Day is just another day...Nothing Special
Understand that I'm being intentionally hyperbolic in using the term "hellish." It is usually not quite that bad.

The simple reason for continuing with the practice is that the backlash I foresee happening for not continuing is much worse than going along with the gift giving.

In my essay I say that the one situation where gift-giving is okay is when someone gives a gift to a less fortunate person who could not otherwise have the gift, as long as the giver expects absolutely nothing in return. Parents giving gifts to children could fall into this category as long as the parents do not expect appreciation in return.
May. 16th, 2006 01:50 am (UTC)
I called my mother on Mother's Day
Absolutely, the spirit of gift giving is to expect absolutely nothing in return. That is the magic that is most often forgotten.

I would love to read your essay when you finish it.
May. 16th, 2006 02:47 am (UTC)
My brother ranted a bit about it being a "Hallmark Holiday" too. I sent her a "Happy Mothers Day" email anyways. Then she called us (she's currently travelling, and I'm visiting my brother while she's away) and we both wished her a "happy un-mothers day" by phone (after Lewis Carroll's "happy un-birthday" celebration in "Alice in Wonderland"). Humor does wonders for any holiday.

I do feel awfully bad for my boyfriend, though-- his mother died right before mother's day. So we really avoid mentioning the holiday around his family. I'd say that the whole holiday is inconsiderate to people who've lost their moms... but not to have such a day would be kind of inconsiderate to mothers. I don't know about your mom, but mine sure worked very hard and definitely deserves the occassional day of praise and special treatment. So I don't mind the holiday-- but I do understand why many people would.
May. 16th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
mother's day...
I don't have anything against Mother's Day per say. The problem that I have is with gift giving (be it for mother's day, father's day, a birthday or some religious holiday). I am strongly against gift giving yet I find myself caught in playing the game. I don't like gifts. I don't like giving gifts. I give gifts and I have received gifts. I'm seldome comfortable with the entire process and I never seem to get it right! I shall write more later. I am looking forward to your posting about gifts.
May. 16th, 2006 05:08 pm (UTC)
Re: mother's day...
interesting-- a lot of people I know feel this way. It's never been an issue in my family. I love both giving and getting gifts. When I was younger, I had a distinct preference for getting them... now I think I slightly prefer giving them, but I still find both very pleasant. I know our family's gift-giving habits are unusual, however. We grew up relatively poor, so my mom always put an emphasis on personal, handmade gifts rather than trying to get something expensive from the store. Typical gifts would be things like knitted scarves, potholders, and when I got older, beaded jewelry. I've always found it exciting to work on something for someone I care about.

Interestingly, this has changed over the years. My brother (8 years my junior) doesn't have the same crafty streak that my mom and I share, and prefers to purchase gifts, giving little thought to saving money (he too likes giving gifts, and goes all-out to by us things we'd like; he's going to make an excellent husband some day). My mother wasn't comfortable with this at first, but now we've reached a nice balance. Now that we're all older, secrecy is no longer important, and we generally all tell each other what we want before the holidays, and then, for example, he and I will decide between us what we will each get for mom. There are always still nice surprises, of course, but I find it's less stressful when you don't have to completely guess what someone wants.

The important thing is, I think, for everyone to agree to make a special occassion special. It doesn't really matter what you do or what you give-- it's just about setting aside a day to really try to make each other happy, and to appreciate the people you care about. A good holiday is a mutually agreed upon illusion of happiness, and the magic of a holiday is that, if everyone really gives it their best, it ceases to be an illusion and becomes something tangible.

Ok, I'm going to shut up now. You've got me waxing romantic, and that's just plain embarrassing :)
May. 16th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)
Re: mother's day...
A good holiday is a mutually agreed upon illusion of happiness, and the magic of a holiday is that, if everyone really gives it their best, it ceases to be an illusion and becomes something tangible.

Now that is really sweet! And I really try to go for that illusion of happiness every single time, despite my problems with gifts. I believe in trying to be as positive as possible.

In the mean time, I put in a couple more hours working on my anti-gift rant. At this rate, I should have something to post by the end of the week.
May. 16th, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
I completely agree on the whole gift-giving and gift-receiving process. It's so awkward and often forced. Once every second blue moon, I will be in a store and find the "perfect gift" and I am okay with that. However, that is rare and all too often, this whole gift-exchange process is silly.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )