The true history of Mother's Day is not roses. It is in fact a reminder that good, original intentions usually go sour once they are unleashed upon the masses. It solidifies my belief that most people are incapable of original thought and true sentiment or are too lazy/busy/embarrassed/uncaring to act upon their emotions. Sentimentality has all but vanished in our modern world and the era of snark is here. Pop culture says to us, "it's cool not to care". I'm the victim of this societal programming as much as anyone, but as a child, I was a voracious letter writer and letter receiver. I never forgot the rush of opening the mailbox every other day, finding a hand-written letter from a faraway land lying there.
My reasons for not giving heart-felt gifts on holidays is because I don't feel inspired on any one particular day (at least this is the excuse I tell myself). I feel inspiration for giving on random days and cannot usually coordinate my creativity with holiday days. So I end up just feeling panic and guilt. This feeling of guilt forces me to buy a gift. My real gifts to others in the past were all hand-made, but of late, I've not done a good job of creating deep presents.
This post is not about me, though. Back to Anna Jarvis.
I first found the story of Anna Jarvis on MentalFloss. Read it here if you wish.
This story was shocking because I had no idea that the founder of Mother's Day ended up a debt-ridden hoarder in a mental asylum. She was disturbed by the core that the holiday that she founded had turned into a commercialized bonanza full of cheap carnations, chintzy greeting cards and no sign of true sentiment. She was disgusted that people bought cards instead of writing letters and she was equally horrified that some people had changed the singular apostrophe (Mother's) into a multiple one (Mothers'). She wanted each of us to honor our own mother, not honor mothers collectively. Read how she wanted to abolish the day she created here.
Anna's outrage is a familiar feeling for anyone who considers themselves to be a creator and has tried to work in society. I will never forget the time I created a graphic design piece for my company, Stouse, Inc. By the time they had revised, removed and altered my original idea, I wanted nothing to do with it. I can only imagine the horror of Anna Jarvis as she observed, year by year, her holiday being chopped, minced and destroyed by the greedy hands of commerce. It's no wonder that she ended up in a mental asylum towards the end of her life. She had principles in an unprincipled world.
The lesson to be learned from this is: don't expect people to be as grand as your vision. Don't expect much from others and do not attempt to change them. This type of expectation leads to intense disappointment and despair. Keep your principles and keep trying to make your ideas happen if they are rooted in something that benefits all. When society befouls your good idea, keep creating, refining and surround yourself with those whose principles match your own. Forsake the masses if you must, but keep your head high, knowing that your efforts were rooted in goodness.
And maybe for the next Mother's Day we will make a card instead of sending a text message like, "thinkn of u ma".