Like all mothers, on Mother’s Day, my mom had to endure a string of useless and ugly gifts, bought with allowance money or, even worse, made at school. It was clear from an early age that DIY was not my forte. At the time, girls had to learn to knit, crochet and embroider, all arts completely lost on yours truly. And not for lack of trying – I would have loved to knit a whole sweater but I never came close to even a scarf. Practice did not improve my skills but, in the process, my mother received dodgy looking doilies, unevenly embroidered towels and other opprobriums along those lines. To her credit, she kept them around but never quite displayed, a happy medium that satisfied us both.
When I became a step-mother, teachers had evolved and I started receiving store-bought candle holders with funky handmade paintings, notepads on wooden boards, all much nicer than what I could have ever been capable of. I was touched and grateful and kept them around for as long as I deemed suitable even if what I really would have wanted, on Mother’s Day, was for bedrooms to look, on occasion, as actual rooms belonging to a house, rather than bomb craters and for phone calls at appointed times instead of having to ring the entire neighbourhood to establish the whereabouts of my step-children once darkness set in. But I am digressing.
We are taught early on that marking an occasion with a gift is the thing to do and it is indeed nice to give and receive. But mother’s and father’s days are up there with Valentine’s on the stupidity factor. Entire families and classrooms scramble to come up with last-minute gifts and brunch reservations while the only ones who benefit are, once again, card companies, chocolate manufacturers, florists and restaurants.
For the last few years, I have been calling my mother to tell her how wonderful and special she is (because she is) but then I call her every Sunday to tell her that. I save $200 on flowers picked on-line that never look quite like the photo when delivered (one year she felt compelled to tell me about the ugly arrangement she got and that is when I stopped the deliveries) and everybody is much happier and stress free.
I don’t expect anything from my step-children although they always volunteer a phone call. I am happy they remembered and we are all happy we don’t have to sit through a badly served lunch somewhere among screaming kids and decked out grandparents. It’s a win-win situation.
Special gifts are reserved for birthdays or romantic occasions. Or for no reason in particular. And those are always the best ones.