May 25, 2017


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Maggie Van Ostrand



Mother's Day: Make It Count


by Maggie Van Ostrand


Brunch, bouquets, and bling on Mother's Day are nice, but "Please don't buy me anything," is my anti-rallying cry. However, TV commercials always win out, and, consequently, closets of unworn bathrobes grow fuller every year.

In an effort to dissuade my kids from commercialism ("How about just writing me a mushy note?" falls on deaf ears), I sought facts to combat their guilt-generated generosity.

Mother's Day actually started in the 1850s when a West Virginia woman, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, recruited mothers to help combat tuberculosis and childhood diseases, a movement which then, in 1861, segued into helping both Union and Confederate soldiers, injured or ill, during the Civil War. That eventually turned into mothers taking active political roles in promoting peace. True bipartisanship. After she passed away, it was her daughter, Miss Anna Jarvis, who got Woodrow Wilson to make Mother's Day a national holiday in 1908. Is it an accidental irony that Wilson proclaimed Sundays for this holiday? But never mind that. It didn't take very long to become exploited for profit; last year, Americans spent $20 Billion on Mother's Day gifts, according to the National Retail Federation. A far cry from the selfless work of Mrs. Jarvis, and the recognition sought for her by her daughter.

Ironically, Miss Jarvis, the daughter, spent the rest of her life trying to de-commercialize Mother's Day and stop what had been done to exploit the original intent. She died in a sanitorium, broke, delirious and alone.

Instead of buying me anything, I'm asking my children to volunteer, if only for the day, at a hospital, or animal rescue organization, or the Salvation Army helping to feed the poor (even if it isn't Thanksgiving). Or donate the money they would've spent on me to a worthy cause. They're grown up now. They've already given me the best gift in the world: they both grew up to be loving parents, fine citizens, and are active in their communities.

If only Miss Jarvis were still alive, I'd visit her in the asylum; I'm sure my kids wouldn't mind if I brought her some of those pretty unworn bathrobes from my closet.

Mother                                    Daughter

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Guest Links


Hey, Maggie doesn't get paid for plugging these. They're just cool sites.

  • The Lange Foundation
    Angel of mercy Gillian Lange founded this dog and cat rescue organization, as well as The Amanda Foundation. If someone you know lost a pet, you can sponsor a rescued animal for the bereaved owner in the lost pet's name. No greater gift can you give.
  • Dogs Deserve Better
    Love, not chains. Dogs can protect you better if they're treated as members of the family, living inside. This site educates people about the wrongs in chaining up your dog.
  • Sylvia Kent
    British author/photographer, historian and Essex expert, Sylvia Kent has a lively blog about life in the U.K. There's much more to it than you could imagine.

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