The Lapel Flower
Each Mother’s Day my mother bought everyone in the family a carnation. Red indicated your mother was living; white, that she had passed on. We wore the carnations to church on Mother’s Day, a custom followed by most everyone in the congregation.
At some point in the service, the minister would distribute more flowers to those who fell in certain categories, i.e., the “Mother with the Most Children Present.” (That invariable went to the same woman every year. She had five kids. Earning a potted plant was a small reward for getting them all scrubbed, dressed and to church on Sunday mornings.)
Then there was the “Youngest Mother” and the “Oldest Mother” designations. (The youngest was often some hapless teenager and the oldest too feeble to walk up and get her potted plant.) Next it was time to honor the “Mother with the Youngest Baby Present,” whereupon some bedraggled young woman fresh from the maternity ward would step up.
Finally, the red carnation people would stand as a body in tribute to their mothers and the white carnation wearers would stand in memory of their bygone parents. By that time, just about everybody had been involved at some level and the potted plants all distributed. We never had these contests on Father’s Day; no one complained.
Cards and Candy
Typically, my family did not go out to eat on Mother’s Day. After church, we went home. We were joined by my grandparents for baked chicken or roast beef, that my mother had made earlier in the morning. As to a gift, a fancy card with elegant script writing and a box of Whitman’s chocolates usually sufficed. This was not a major holiday at our house.
What to Eat on Mother’s Day?
It occurred to me as I wrote this post, that Mother’s Day, unlike many of our holidays, has no particular food associated with it. There’s nothing comparable to Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas cookies, Halloween candy, or Easter eggs. There’s just cards and flowers, though some hubbies and kids serve good ol’ mom breakfast in bed or, at least, take her out to lunch at Fast Eddie’s Fish House.
The Secret to Mother’s Day
This weekend, whoever you are or wherever you might be, celebrate by extending the meaning of the day. It’s quite easy. Just find someone special to “mother” with a big hug or an act of kindness and appreciation.
Freda Shen says
Thank you for this wonderful and compassionate posting. What traditions! Being now a white carnation daughter, I will be spending the day bringing food and cooking it for friends who lost their only child three weeks ago. As you note, they are the ones who need a “mother” today. A grateful and happy mother’s day to you!
Love and Blessings!