So much for fancy flowers, champagne brunches and new electronic devices.
Ninety nine years ago, President Woodrow Wilson had a terse message for the American people when he designated the nation’s first official Mothers Day.
“Whereas, by Joint Resolution approved May 6, 1914, ‘designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, and for other purposes’, the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings, and the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in may as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of this country.”
And that was that.
The proclamation was typed out on simple paper, signed by Wilson and Williams Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State at the time. There is an crimson time seal and a watermark; the document is now part of the U.S Archives.
There had been some previous private efforts to honor mama afoot, however. Julia Ward Howe had suggested a “Mother’s Day for Peace” in 1870. And one Anna Jarvis staged a memorial for her own mother in Grafton, West Virginia in 1908 - then vigorously campaigned for the rest of the nation to do the same.
The nation’ and its retailers were only too happy to oblige. Jarvis eventually became disenchanted with the commercialization of the day - which has since become a billion-dollar industry.
Which is not a bad thing in these times.
According to the National Retail Federation, 86 percent of Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday. They will collectively spend $20.7 billion. That includes more than $4.2 billion on jewelry, $3.5 billion on Mother’s Day brunch or dinner and $2.3 billion on personal electronics.
But if numbers are true indicators, Americans love their moms more this year than last: The average consumer will spend $169 on their mother this year, up 11 percent from 2012.
President Obama’s “Mother’s Day Proclamation” for 2013, has some political underpinnings meanwhile.
“Workplace inflexibility puts a strain on too many mothers juggling their jobs’ needs with those of their kids. Wage inequality still leaves too many families struggling to make ends meet.These problems affect all of us - and just as mothers pour themselves into giving their children the best chance in life, we need to make sure they get the fairness and opportunities they deserve,” Mr. Obama said.
“On Mother’s Day, we give thanks to proud, caring women from every walk of life. Whether balancing the responsibilities of career and family or taking up the work of sustaining a home, a mother’s bond with her child is unwavering; her love, unconditional. Today, we celebrate those blessings, and were new them for the year to come.”