My Most Memorable Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day took a sweet turn for me a few years ago. Here’s how-

I grew up in a country where Mother’s Day was never a big deal. So, I began celebrating the holiday only a few years ago.  Celebrating may not even be the right word. All I did was to call my mom and wish her, and on a few occasions, I sent her flowers and a greeting card.

My mom, of course, would shrug it away as if it was the silliest thing to celebrate a day in her honor.

As for me, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea and always felt uncomfortable with the way in which we were commercializing our feelings for our loved ones, but, I played along and saw no harm in wishing Mom a Happy Mother’s Day once a year.

But everything changed in the summer of 2006.

I became a Mom.

Mother’s Day since then has never been the same.  Every year on Mother’s Day, my little girl wishes me in her own sweet way and I can’t express how much I value and cherish her little ‘gifts’ and cards.  We’ve celebrated three Mother’s Days since my daughter was born.  Although I remember all of them well and have fond memories of my baby wishing me, Mother’s Day 2009 was probably the most memorable.

We celebrated it on Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Perfect weather, a beautiful ocean, the most gorgeous sunrise and miles of soft sand and sparkling sea shells made last year’s Mother’s Day weekend wonderful in every way. It was my daughter’s first trip to the beach. We spent the day building sand castles, collecting sea shells, telling sea monster stories, strolling along the beach and just having a marvelous time.

Technically speaking, there was no ‘Mother’s Day gift’.  But I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.

Watching my daughter enjoy herself without a care in the world, exploring sand and sea in her cute bathing suit gave me more joy than any designer gift could have.  I had a great time myself, with no thoughts of work or chores or bills ruining my experience.

It was a beautiful, memorable Mother’s Day, and it didn’t cost us a fortune or weeks of elaborate planning.

That Mother’s Day made me realize that holidays and special occasions are opportunities for us to create memories together. You don’t have to spend your savings or plan meticulously to have a good time and show your loved ones how much you care.  A gift is great, but it doesn’t have to break your budget or be the focus of your celebration.

Spending less money on ‘things’ and more time with each other may be the secret to having memorable moments throughout our lives.  Speaking from personal experience, I strongly recommend you try it. Instead of splurging on gifts, plan an outing or a day with your Mom. It could be as simple as a picnic in her backyard or a trip to her favorite spot in the city.  What makes it special and memorable is the fact that you spend time with her doing what she enjoys and just have a good time together.

So, Moms, here’s wishing you a very Happy Mother’s Day – may you be surrounded by love and joy and may the fond memories of your special day last forever.

P.S:  Don’t tell anyone…but this year, I’ll be flying home with my daughter to celebrate Mother’s Day with my Mom and Grandma. Four generations, three Moms, three Daughters. That should be some Mother’s Day celebration!

Why Mother’s Day is So Popular in America…

by Rupa

and My Dilemma Surrounding Mother’s Day!

Although it seems like a universal holiday now, did you know that Mother’s Day has always been a predominantly western tradition? This holiday celebrated with gusto in countries like America, Canada and Australia was little known to people in Asian countries like India, where I come from. Here, the concept of Mother’s Day started gaining popularity only over the last decade or two. Growing up, I don’t remember celebrating Mother’s Day, or for that matter Father’s Day or any of these modern holidays my cousins, nieces and nephews in India celebrate today.

You probably know the history behind Mother’s Day and how Anna Jarvis is credited with starting the tradition in honor of her mother, Mrs. Reese Jarvis.  Many in America adopted the holiday in 1908, but it was in 1914, that the Presidential proclamation declared the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day to honor all mothers.

When I think about why the holiday is considered so important in America, and why it took decades for its appeal to reach other countries, a couple of probable reasons pop up in my head.

Children move out of their parents’ house in America. Not the case in many Asian or Middle-eastern countries. Children continued living with their parents even after becoming adults, unless there was a pressing need to move out, such as educational or career opportunities in a different city. Sons continued to live with their parents post-marriage, while daughters moved into their husbands’/ in-laws’ place. Parental ties remained strong regardless. Daughters returned to their parent’s place during pregnancy and/or child birth and stayed for a few months afterwards.  Sons dutifully cared for their parents until the very end. Joint families were common and so, one probably never saw the need to set aside a day to spend time with his mother or to bring her flowers. Parents and children were an integral part of each other’s lives.  Each pitched in towards bringing in income or carrying out household chores.  My guess: They probably depended on each other and saw each other a lot more than in the West. So, the idea of celebrating a special holiday for a certain member of the family may simply never have occurred. Whereas in the west, where it’s very common for kids to move out of their parents home during their teenage years to lead independent lives – the need to allocate a day to celebrate and honor one’s parents is understandable.

In countries like Indiatraditionally, parents were honored, revered, implicitly obeyed and routinely consulted. Not just on a special holiday or during a particular season, but all the time. Respecting one’s parents was considered a sacred duty and serving them, a privilege. So, though there may have been no ‘Mother’s Day’, children never set out on an important mission without seeking their parents’ blessings – be it a test at school, a performance or one’s wedding.  Bringing flowers and greeting cards may not have been in vogue, but children cared for aging, disabled or sick parents without a second thought. It was just assumed that children would look after their parents just as their parents had cared for them. So, you see, in a way, everyday was Mother’s or Father’s day.

Expressing feelings with material gifts is a relatively modern, western concept. You don’t have to think long and hard to figure out that marketers and retailers benefit the most from these holidays. Sure, your flowers, gifts and dinner treats may thrill mom, but she probably would be just as happy if you simply paid her a visit or spent a few hours with her without splurging on gifts.  In many cultures and countries, exchange of gifts within a family was unheard of until very recently. The idea that material gifts express one’s feelings didn’t exist. Consumers in America and other western, capitalist countries on the other hand, aren’t new to this. Spending money on ‘things’ and exchanging gifts on special occasions has been part of the culture here for several decades.

My Mother’s Day Dilemma

So, you see, I have mixed feelings about celebrating Mother’s Day. My mother is my best friend, teacher, guide and confidante. We talk every day. We read each other’s minds on many occasions.  We have no secrets. She is my strength, inspiration and reality check.  On one hand, I see the rationale behind celebrating a holiday in her honor.  On the other hand, I don’t see how I could just pick one random day of the year to treat her in a special way, to give her my attention and a gift and to make her feel appreciated. This is the dilemma I face every year as Mother’s Day approaches. I send her flowers and a mothers day cards or ecards in keeping with holiday tradition. But, the second Sunday of May is not necessarily the only day when I feel like honoring her.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s the everyday moments – the jokes and secrets we share, the problems she helps me with, the advice we give each other, the little tiffs – those are the things that cement our mother-daughter bond. Not the bouquet of roses I send her once a year.

What do Mother’s Day traditions mean to you?

Mother’s Day Across the Globe – Many Ways to Honor Mom

Many Ways to Honor Mom

Mother’s Day is an occasion to honor and appreciate the person who perhaps played the most important role in shaping our lives.

However, the modern tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day with gifts and greeting cards is not how it all began. Ancient civilizations and cultures such as those in Egypt, Greece and India have been known to worship the Mother Goddess in various forms for centuries. Ancient Egyptians honored Goddess Isis, considered the Mother of the Pharaohs. The Greeks and Romans celebrated the festival of Magna Mater (Great Mother) in honor of the ancient Goddesses Rhea and Cybele. The celebrations included games and processions where the Goddess’s statue was carried on one’s head around streets, followed by displays of arts and crafts. In India, various symbols are used to represent the feminine aspect of the Supreme. Hindus worship several deities – male and female- but believe that the underlying cosmic force or Almighty is, in fact formless.

Cultures around the world celebrate Mother’s Day at different times and in different ways.

China: Although carnations and cards have grown in popularity in China, Mother’s Day is not the only time the Chinese remember their Mom. Celebrating and honoring one’s Mother is part of the Chinese tradition. Most Chinese names honor the maternal heritage.  The first character of Chinese names generally symbolizes Mother.

India:  Hindus have been worshipping the spiritual significance of Mother in various forms, incarnations and symbols for ages. Known as Devi (Goddess) or Shakti (Cosmic Power), the feminine aspect of the Divine is revered and worshipped across the country. Several festivals honor the Mother Goddess in India, the most popular of them being Navarathri or Dussehra. In modern times, most of urban India has adopted the American tradition of buying gifts and flowers for Mom on Mother’s Day.  However, traditionally, Indians follow the custom of seeking blessings from their Mother (and Father) before embarking on any important task. ‘Mata’ or one’s Mother enjoys a position even higher than that of God in Hindu culture.

Thailand: The people of Thailand revere their Queen, Her Majesty Sirikit Kitiyakara. It is in her honor that Mother’s Day is celebrated on her birthday, August 12 which is a public holiday. Her portraits are displayed and Thailand’s flags are raised in homes and organizations across the country. People either travel to Bangkok or join in celebrations in their own cities.

UK: Mothering Sunday has been popular in UK for centuries and began as a way for families to spend time together and for Mothers to enjoy some time off from their daily chores. The holiday falls during the period of Lent. Children who had been sent away to work in other villages or cities traveled home to spend the day with their Mother.  Gifts, flowers and greeting cards have become a part of tradition today.

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