Are you going to be giving a gift to your mother on Mother’s Day? Advertisers really want you too! And they are definitely not letting you forget that this year Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12. But the creator of Mother’s Day did not want this day honoring motherhood to be commercialized. In order to understand why you need to know a little bit about its creator.
Ann Reeves Jarvis
On May 10, 1908 Anna Jarvis held a memorial service in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, WVA. Her wish was to honor her deceased mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis who, in the years before the Civil War, had been instrumental in organizing Mother’s Day work clubs. The purpose of these clubs was to teach new mother’s how to properly care for their children in order to fight disease and decrease the mortality rate. The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. After the war ended the clubs became a place where the mothers met with Union and Confederate soldiers. It was their way of bringing both sides together to begin the process of uniting the country after the long and bloody conflict.
Ann’s daughter, Anna Jarvis who never married nor had children, came up with an idea to honor all mothers for the sacrifices they make for their children. She wanted it to be a day that children young and old would spend time with their mothers giving thanks for all she did for them.So with the financial help of a wealthy department store owner she organized that first Mother’s Day in 1908 in Grafton, WVA. It was so successful that she pushed to have it made a national holiday. She began writing letters to newspapers and politicians urging for a day dedicated solely to motherhood. Her argument was that all American holidays were too focused on male achievements. She finally got her point across and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making the second Sunday in May as National Mother’s Day.
But Anna’s idea of everyone going home to celebrate and spend time with their own mother soon turned commercial. People were inundated with ads to buy mom something or just send her flowers and cards. No mention of just stopping in and spending time with your mother. This did not set well with Anna. It was not what she had in mind so she set out to stop the buying frenzy. She even attacked First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother’s Day to raise funds for charities! After years of fighting and spending her own money to stop the take over her creation she died at the age of 84 penniless and in a state of dementia. But her holiday remains but is more commercialized than ever.
The real meaning of Mother’s Day
So remember all of this as we approach Sunday May 12, 2019, Mother’s Day. Spending money on a gift for Mother’s Day is not what Anna Jarvis had in mind. Spending time with your mother is what she envisioned. And time is free. Too far away? Call. Life is short.
I am proud to say that I was born in Grafton, WVa many, many years ago. We still go back for family reunions and to visit their wonderful state park. But I must admit that I have not visited the Anna Jarvis Museum. We will definitely visit it on our next trip to WVa. And if a gift is something you still want for your mother then give her a gift of memories. Give her a gift card and bring her with you to Hallauer House B & B.