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Mother’s Day: A Litmus Test for Authenticity

Of all the holidays we celebrate in the US, Mother’s Day is one of the biggest money-makers for restaurants, florists, and card shops – to the tune of over $20 billion. For those of us who try to live authentically, it can present a bit of a conundrum – are we taking an opportunity to honor and appreciate the mothers we love, or are we buying in to the crass marketing of a “Hallmark Holiday?”

Even Anna Jarvis, the woman who founded Mother’s Day, was faced with this dilemma. After campaigning for years to persuade state governors and Congress to recognize it, she later became so irritated by its growing commercialization that she organized boycotts of the holiday, crashed (and was ejected from) candy conventions, and threatened to sue companies that used the term “Mother’s Day” -- as she held the copyright to the name. On one occasion she ordered a “Mother’s Day Salad” only to dump it on the restaurant floor when it arrived at her table.

Jarvis had envisioned an occasion for people to spend time with their mothers or to write letters of appreciation to them. For her, a printed card or a box of chocolates was just a sign of laziness – the opposite of what she had intended to achieve. Who knows how she’d react to our ease in fulfilling that nagging feeling of obligation with a few mouse clicks and a credit card number!

But Mother’s Day has endured for over a hundred years now. Maybe it’s because many businesses very much want it to. But I’d like to believe it’s because people all over the world welcome the chance to tell their mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, mothers-in-law, and every manner of adopted “mothers” what a difference they make to us.

So this Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate in a way that shows authentic appreciation for the mothers in our lives. Make sure to go beyond the thought, and tell them how you feel in your heart with a handwritten note or intimate conversation, which might turn out to be the nicest present of all.

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