Holidays in America: capitalist cashgrab
As I begin writing this piece my children are walking out of the door to have breakfast with their mother. It's Sunday May 10, 2015; mother's day. By now there is not a single person who knows me well that expects a breakfast, brunch, call or any other acknowledgement on this day. Or, on any other holiday for that matter.
About six years ago I gave up celebrating holidays. Not because I am a bitter person or for religious reasons but as a means of doing something about my belief that the commercialization and cheapening of all things meant to be sentimental is a bad thing that should be reversed, not encouraged.
When Anna Jarvis created mother's day in 1908 it had been three years since the death of her mother Ann. Ann was also a champion of a day of memorial for mothers before her death in 1905. There were other celebrations but none that gained mass popularity until Ann's daughter Anna pick up where her mother had left off.
The original idea of the holiday was to remember and honor all mothers and motherhood. She marked the first mother's day with a truly heartfelt gesture, sending white carnation flowers to Andrew's Methodist Episcopal Church, her mother's place of worship.
But, to Jarvis these flowers weren't just empty things given out of obligation or simply to feel good about ones self. As Anna explained "Its whiteness is to symbolize the truth, purity and broad-charity of mother love; its fragrance, her memory, and her prayers. The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying. When I selected this flower, I was remembering my mother’s bed of white pinks."
There was a thought process to it, specifically, the thought of what that person, in this case, a mother, means to you. Memories, emotions and from that a physical display of all that she represents. Holidays are not this anymore.
When Anna Jarvis began her campaign against the holiday she founded she spoke of the sincerity of the above gestures of honor, love and affection of mothers being replaced with lazy, empty gestures that served to line the pockets of floral companies and other profiteers while showing mothers only how lazy and thoughtless people can be.
We live in a nation of people that is more and more disconnected from one another and from themselves everyday. A place where our sole goal is to gain riches in the form of capital, popularity and other trivial, fleeting things. Many of us have forgotten, or if you are younger, never learned the true value of memories, the immeasurable value of time spent with a persons undivided attention. The feelings that stays with you long after the time has past. The words said that will never be forgotten. A smile. This is called nurturing a relationship and I would rather have a collection of close ones than a collection of cards, gifts and money.
On holidays like this my children show why it is that us adults should be ashamed of our allure to commercial expressions of lazy love. Last fathers day, I got cards, generic words via text-because calling loved ones nowadays is way too much work-and other unmemorable gestures. The only thing that I kept: A hand drawn portrait made by my then four-year old. The memory, a admittedly cheesy song written and performed by my 10year-old. Did they do this for fathers day, sure, but their gesture was true and sincere.
I'm not saying that you can't and shouldn't spend money, what I'm saying is if you are going to make a purchase this mothers day make it a thoughtful one. And by thoughtful I mean put more thought into it than "its mothers day and I have to buy something." Use this day, and preferably everyday, to show that those most important in your life that they are worthy of the most valuable things that you can give anyone. Thought and time. I promise you will never need to give them a gift receipt or have to worry about them asking for a refund. And, try to give these things more often as best you can. Then, you wouldn't need to remember which day is set aside to finally pay attention to your loved ones.