I’ve misbehaved at times. One of my lowest moments involves Valentine’s Day 1983. Valentine’s Day is among the Hallmarkiest of Hallmark holidays, setting expectations for some and creating downright heartbreak for others.
I was in a new relationship, only about six weeks in. I had high hopes for our first Valentine’s Day together. Being immature, I had dreams that he would shower me with love and gifts. He gave me flowers and an ankle bracelet. I was not too fond of the ankle bracelet and let him know about it. I know, right. My husband–then-boyfriend–is one of the sweetest, most caring men on earth. I gave him a bad time for reasons I can’t remember. A completely unnecessary bad time. Amazing that the relationship survived. Then-boyfriend was also acting a little weird that day, and I couldn’t figure it out.
Much to my long-term shame, I found out later that Valentine’s Day is his father’s birthday. His father was killed in a car accident on November 6, 1982, at the age of 61 just months before this Hallmark holiday. I had no idea. I had heaped expectations of this wonderful man when he was in pain.
And he gave me lovely gifts, which I didn’t appreciate because I couldn’t get out of my own way.
That moment was a reckoning for me and made us talk about how we felt about holidays. We decided early on that cards will suffice for most of these holidays. That was nearly forty years ago. Since then, I’ve lived with a man who is 99.8% of the time (doesn’t get 99.9% because of how fast he surfs through TV channels). He is kind and good, who takes care of me every day.
Today is Mother’s Day, a rough day for many people. Those who have recently lost their mothers are battered with pictures of happy mothers and children. Some lost their mothers as children and have a huge hole where memories should be. Some are childless, not by choice. Some have lost mothers and children to COVID in the last year and other diseases, accidents, etc., in prior years. The time before the holiday is a stampede of advertising, and it’s everywhere. You can’t hide from the perfect families of TV and the Internet.
Both our mothers are gone, 2010 and 2012, respectively. Our only child lives 1,100 miles away and will celebrate Mother’s Day with his girlfriend, her parents, and likely her grandparents. I’m glad they can be together. (And after not seeing him for 18 months, we will see him in 22 days!)
While Mother’s Day is tough for some individuals, it’s heaven on earth for business. An article on the “Grammarly” blog noted, In 2017, the expected total spending for Mother’s Day in the United States is $23.6 billion. That’s an average of $186.39 per shopper. In the fourteen years, the National Retail Federation has conducted the Mother’s Day spending survey, that’s the highest amount yet.
On my heart, today are so many, one whose mother died far away during COVID. She has yet to visit the cemetery, one whose mother stopped talking to her when she got cancer. There are several women I know who lost babies to SIDS and childhood cancer. Several others lost their mothers early in life. I know a wonderful woman of God fighting cancer, and her granddaughter, who lives five states away, suffers from a disease that requires major reconstructive spinal surgery. I think of many friends whose mothers live far away in facilities that limit visitation. Many of their mothers have some dementia that limits their communication skills. And I think of several whose children don’t speak to them because a spouse doesn’t like the mother, and on and on.
If you are lucky enough to spend time today with family, don’t take it for granted. Today I’m thankful that I experienced much joy with my mom in the later parts of her life, even as she suffered from dementia. I am thankful to have known and loved my mother-in-law, who adored her son and grandson. I am thankful for my son, a beautiful person who makes every day Mother’s Day for me. Having lived away from family most of my life, I learned that one must make your holidays when one can. Don’t let the world tell you when to celebrate. Don’t celebrate if you don’t feel like it. And if you do, take joy and pleasure in those moments when you are together or memories you made together.