We had a rose bush in our front yard when I was growing up and every year on Mother’s Day, my brothers and I would go pick a rose and pin it on and wear it to church.
I had no clue why we did this and as an adult I had to google it to see if there was a reason, or was it because it was just a day that my Mom got her way and made us look spiffy.
What I found was that wearing a corsage on Mother’s Day is a Southern tradition. The woman was to wear a corsage of a red flower if her mother was still living and a corsage of a white flower if her mother was no longer living.
Mom did not wear a corsage, to the best of my recollection, but I am sure that we were doing something that had been done generations before us, but it somehow got skewed.
Those that know me well, know that I do not like Hallmark holidays. You know, the holidays that were made by companies for you to spend money. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, and all of the other “Days” that have been created. I always say that I want to be treated with kindness every day, not because it is a day that you are told to be nice to me.
That being said, I would never not call my Mother on Mother’s Day, but I would never be upset if my kids did not acknowledge Mother’s Day.
When my oldest, who is now 25, was very young, I of course wanted to teach him about being thoughtful. To say his Dad is not a great gift giver is putting it mildly. If he were to remember to buy a gift for any occasion, there was no thought behind it and it was usually bought last minute.
I wanted my kid(s) to be able to give a gift that would not require money or require someone to drive him to a store.
Before he was old enough to even understand, I told him that every Mother’s Day I wanted a handwritten letter from him. I didn’t want anything bought and that I would not be happy if the letter was accompanied by a purchased gift.
I never wanted him to stress about trying to figure out what I would want or spend his money on a gift for me. He would someday be married and I also did not want this to become his wife’s duty.
The very early years he could not write and I would trace his hand and let him scribble. Later would be an attempt at drawing a heart. Then simple “I love you” that looked more like chicken scratch.
No matter what, year after year, the letter has come to me. His brother was born and he also knows the rule of “no gift, only a letter”. Then came my 2 bonus kids and while I did not require this from them, they adopted it and I get letters from them too.
I keep these letters in a binder. I can read them and see how our relationship has changed and grown over the years.
These letters are worth more than any flower that would have already wilted, more than the candy I would have already eaten, and more than any knick knack that I felt like I had to keep out because my kid bought it and now it gathers dust.
Little did I know that the small lessons on being thoughtful that I was trying to teach my son, would end up being the biggest gift to me.