Thoughts on Mother’s Day etc.

Complaints about Mother’s Day: it’s a Hallmark-invented holiday, it’s unfairly weighted against fathers, it makes non-mothers feel bad.

Well, so what? Mothers have a hard and important job and are often taken for granted, not to mention patronized. I’m very pro-mother. The holiday is something else again. Not being a mother, I don’t have any way to fully grasp how much it matters to some. It was not a big part of my family life growing up, but given my respect for mothers I am perfectly happy to celebrate it in a socially-acceptable way. I can’t say I look forward to it. Or Father’s Day either. Well, so what?

The holidays I believe in are Thanksgiving and Christmas. I particularly like Thanksgiving because there are no presents. The exchange of gifts I regard as mostly a ploy for rich people to increase their personal consumption by agreeing to give each other stuff they would not otherwise feel justified in buying. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. Everybody gets to feel generous. What a crock. Generosity is when you give to people who don’t give back.

I’d like Christmas better if there were a lot less giving gifts to each other and a lot more singing of carols, eating cookies and turkeys, and decorating the house. Well, maybe not a lot more. I think we’ve already reached the limit on Christmas decorations. When you have  no more shelf space and no more table space and no more floor space and no more wall space, when your roof is covered with plywood cutouts of cute figures, and when your lawn is the same, and when you have maximized the lights that your house can hold up without a code violation, you can stop the decorating.

There are really two Christmases. One is the Christian Christmas, in which we quietly go to church and remember the birth of Jesus. The other is the celebration of family and winter and… well, just exactly what? That is unclear. Could it be stuff? It’s mostly an excuse to enjoy ourselves. Which is not a bad thing. Especially when the days are short and dark.

But I digress. I like the Fourth of July too because I like barbecues and fireworks. Too bad they are so utterly detached from patriotic feelings. I doubt we will go back to public orations and parades.

Easter I do not regard as a holiday. It is a day of celebration and worship for Christians, and making it into a secular feast (family dinners, Easter eggs, chocolate) is mostly a distraction.

My favorite  day, though, is the birthday. It is that most American thing, a holiday defined by and around each individual. I like that everyone gets one. Whoever you are. Whatever you accomplished, or didn’t.  Whether you had a great year or a lousy year. You get to have a birthday in jail, I believe. Whatever your age. Whether you did anything to deserve it or not, you get a day just for you. Every year. For your whole life.

Compared to that, Mother’s Day seems rather pallid to me.


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6 Responses to “Thoughts on Mother’s Day etc.”

  1. chasta Says:


  2. timstafford Says:

    Wait until I really start ranting.

  3. sicolas Says:

    thoroughly enjoyable post. I would add that much of the modern american christmas is a celebration of consumerism designed by retail stores and credit card companies. Hail to the chief.

  4. Dean Anderson Says:

    An essential part of Mother’s Day for me has become reading Billy Collins’ wonderful poem – The Landyard:

  5. Gloria Says:

    aww! yeah i agree about bdays! =)

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