Thursday, May 6, 2010
Mother's Day Rituals
Last night I went shopping for my mother a Mother’s Day present. In my family, what really matters is getting my mother a gift she wants. We don’t suffer from any of this “it’s the thought that counts” crap. This is often a problem because my mother changes her mind about everything and gift requests are no different. She told me weeks ago that flowers would be a nice treat. Then she wanted money to spend on something for her garden, and just last night she called me with instructions to go to the mall and get her some “mint green towels.” So this afternoon I followed her directive and purchased her some green towels. I hope she doesn’t change her mind again because I put the towels in the post today.
This experience caused me to think about the varied rituals Mother’s Day. Some families get together for a big meal. Others go out to eat; in fact, it is traditionally the Sunday of the year that the most people eat out on. One of my friends refused to participate in the holiday because he said that a card company invented it to sell more cards-perhaps he is right.
In the South we have the strange ritual of “Decoration Day.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with this phenomenon it is when cemeteries are cleaned up in the days leading up to Decoration Day and subsequently on the actual Decoration Day the graves are decorated with new floral arrangements and plants. When I was a child, some families I knew even got to get new clothes and shoes for Decoration Day like it was Easter. I was always a little jealous of them because I always wanted another pair of shoes. In my family we had to go to the cemetery on Saturday to put the decorations out then go back on Sunday before church to make sure everything “still looked nice.” Finally, we went back after church to visit with everyone else who had decorated their family graves. People visited back and forth around the cemetery--oooohing and aahhing over how “nice” things looked. Needless to say as a child I HATED this ritual. Looking back on the experience now I can’t separate Decoration Day from Mother’s Day in my mind. It was always just a part of our Mother’s Day celebration. My father’s family still all meet and carry on just as they have done for their entire lives; and my sister forces her daughters to endure the process just as we did as children. Yes, it is a strange way to celebrate Mother’s Day and yet many people across the Deep South will find themselves in a cemetery Sunday.
Do you and your family have any strange Mother’s Day rituals?