May 10, 2013 10:35:27 AM
Sunday, as you had better know by now, is Mother's Day.
Although motherhood has been celebrated throughout the world in some form or fashion since the beginning of humanity, the American version of the holiday is a relatively recent development. A Philadelphia woman named Anna Jarvis decided having a designated day to honor moms would be great way to pay tribute to her deceased mother. She and some friends, presumably other moms, began a letter-writing campaign to Congress. This was back in the "Olden Days" when things actually managed to get through Congress.
Sure enough, in 1914 Congress passed legislation declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.
So happy 99th birthday to Mother's Day.
The most recent figures place the number of mom in the U.S. at 85.4 million and show that 53 percent of women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 44 are moms. Those figures vary from year to year, of course. But one constant statistic remains: 100 percent of all people have had a mother. Of course, some of us ARE mothers Some of us are spouses or partners of mothers. All of us have friends, co-workers, bosses, neighbors who are mothers. There is just no escaping the ubiquitous reach of motherhood, not that we should dare try.
You may ignore Arbor Day with impunity. Mother's Day is a different story.
As is the custom in modern society, economic impact is always used to measure the significance of a thing.
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will be spending $20.7 billion on Mother's Day this year, 11 percent more than last year.
But to reduce Mother's Day to such calculations seems not only crude, but flawed.
It is doubtful that Americans love their moms 11 percent more than they did in 2012, after all.
And that $20.7 billion spent on gifts? It certainly doesn't take into account the gifts mothers always seem to treasure above all others -- a child's little hand print in plaster of Paris or the home-made card that is destined to occupy a place of honor on the refrigerator.
Economists are ill-equipped to measure the currency of love and affection that is lavished on moms because it is, first and foremost, the most sentimental of our holidays.
No one is likely to be found guilty of being too sentimental in their observance of the day, because the outpouring of love and gratitude we bestow on our moms is understood to be only a small return on the investment of love our mothers have made in us. A mother's love endures and defies. For some of us, it extends even beyond the grave: Our mother's have gone and yet their love remains and our souls are nurtured at the remembrances of that love.
In light of that, $20.7 billion is a trifle and there can never be too many hugs, kisses or I-love-you-moms offered to mom on this day.
You simply can't over-do it on Mother's Day.
But we encourage you to try.
1. John Brocato: Encounter with a stranger in need LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Our View: CAFB's ranking does not diminish our affection DISPATCH EDITORIALS
3. Susan Estrich: False equivalence NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Froma Harrop: Is the medium the menace? NATIONAL COLUMNS