In a classic display of congressional dysfunction, disconnect and incompetence, the lawmakers of this nation actually voted multiple times against having a Mother’s Day holiday. In fact, the mother of Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis, gave up on Washington and started passing the resolution for the holiday in state legislatures.
It was only after the states had independently passed resolutions to declare Mother's Day a holiday that Congress and President Woodrow Wilson jumped to the head of the parade to declare a “national” holiday. As with most things passed in Washington and fueled by commercialism, the holiday soon drifted from its original intent. There is a proper way to celebrate Mother's Day.
Sadly, Jarvis began boycotting the very holiday she created soon after Wilson made it a national celebration in 1914. Why? It had become too commercial. Jarvis decried the purchase of gifts and flowers and passionately argued that the only proper way to honor mothers and influential women was in the form of a handwritten letter.
From the moment Mother’s Day was established and designated as the second Sunday in May, a corresponding ritual has occurred on the evening of the second Saturday in May. Husbands, fathers and children, having forgotten, rush to the local supermarket to pick up a Mother’s Day card and quickly sign their name to it. Most Americans are indebted to the good people at Hallmark for bailing them out of dicey and difficult situations. But simply signing your name at the bottom of a rhyming verse, most likely written by a college English major working in Kansas City, doesn’t seem quite enough to give proper honor and praise to your mother or the influence of extraordinary women in your life.
With all the technological advances of the modern world, the power of the personal touch has been lost. Texts, tweets, emails and social media posts can be efficient, but they often are not the most effective means when it comes to expressing gratitude, love or appreciation. People are tired of being part of an impersonal, database-driven, form-letter kind of world.
A handwritten letter from President John Adams to his wife Abigail once sold for over $50,000. What would that letter have sold for if it had been printed on an ink-jet printer or if it was an email or text message? There is immense value in a handwritten letter that transcends time and space. The most prized treasures of life, saved in boxes and closets, are most often a little handwritten note from a child, parent, loved one, boss or friend.
As such, every child should pull out a blank sheet of paper today and take time to write down specific thoughts, memories and lessons from their mother or grandmother. Even those whose celebration of Mother's Day includes the sadness or loss of a mother who has passed away will benefit from writing such a letter.
Whether the writing looks like hen-tracks, block letters or is in the increasingly rare cursive script; whether it is written in pen, pencil or crayon, the writer will discover that such an expression is as important to the writer as it is to the mother or grandmother who receives it. Sender and receiver can cherish the memories and writing for years to come.Comment on this story
We encourage all to honor the original intent of Anna Jarvis by writing a heartfelt, handwritten letter to the influential women in their lives. Long after the flowers have faded and the sweetness of the chocolates has been forgotten, tucked away in a drawer will be a part of you, on paper, which will be read and reread on difficult days and in moments when these important women long to be close to you.
A handwritten letter is the most fitting, valued expression of love and gratitude on Mother's Day and every day.
Portions of this editorial appeared on Mother's Day in 2018.