Nearly every national holiday, be it a religious event, a political celebration, or paying tribute to a person or class of people, has a sentimental, personal side. Nowhere is this more obvious than on Mother's Day - and with good reason.

Gratitude for mothers encompasses the good things, the virtues in life. In fact, the word "mother" is almost synonymous with such words as love, sacrifice, caring, patience, service and teaching. Add worry to that list, for mothers worry a lot. And they never stop, no matter how old the child becomes.In the weeks before the holiday, various versions of this question have been heard all over the country: "What are we going to get Mom for Mother's Day?"

The answer may be a card - Mother's Day cards are a big business - or flowers or candy or some other kind of gift. While those are appreciated, the best present is a simple one, yet hard for some people to give. It amounts to a simple, "I love you."

That can be expressed as part of a phone call or visit. A recent poll found that the two most prized gifts, as chosen by mothers themselves, are a visit, 31 percent, or a phone call, 18 percent.

Giving mother a short note, written in one's own hand, expressing love and appreciation and giving the reasons for those feelings, would mean more to most mothers than an elaborate, expensive gift and would be read and cherished in ways that cannot be matched by anything else.

Even the most stoic, self-contained mother could scarcely fail to be moved by such an expression, particularly from a grown child who had not made that gesture in many years, if ever. A personal little note like that, in one's own words, can represent a mother's payday, a rich reward for everything.

Yet a holiday, a single day, even though lovingly celebrated, is not enough to give the proper reward and recognition for mothers. The lifetime of love, selflessness, doing and even pain that are part of mothering can only be properly acknowledged by another lifetime.

A child who is kind, honest, hard-working, virtuous, temperate, compassionate, respectful and loving is a mother's greatest reward. In the end, a life lived in such a way as to bring a sense of pride and honor to a mother is the greatest gift of all.