Sunday, May 10, 2009

A tribute to Anna M. Jarvis, the mother of Mother's Day, who in an ironic twist of fate was never a mother herself.

     Anna M. Jarvis was born in 1864 in the rural community of Grafton, West Virginia, and she grew into a tall, attractive, redhead, eager to find her way in the world. She had watched her mother put aside pleasure and ambitions for the considerable duties of motherhood. At 27 and unmarried she took a bold, modern step and moved away from home to live in Philadelphia, working first as a stenographer and then as a writer for the advertising department of an insurance company. As to why she didn't wed, a family friend said, "she had a disastrous love affair when she was young. It left her shocked and disillusioned, and thereafter she turned her back on all men." After years of living on her own, Anna moved her widowed mother to Philadelphia. In 1905, she went into a period of "pathological mourning" when her mother died, creating an alter of dried flowers, and talking about little else.    

     In 1907, a few years after her mother died (and left her a tidy inheritance), she created and led the "Mother's Day Movement," and began one of the most organized and successful letter-writing campaigns in history, reaching out to influential businessmen, religious leaders, newspaper editors, mayors and eventually to governors of every state. Within seven years, a resolution was passed by both houses of Congress for a national observance of Mother's Day. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country," setting aside the second Sunday in May, which also commemorated the anniversary of Anna's mother's death.

     As it was her mother's favorite flower, and she was in charge, Anna declared the carnation the official Mother Day's emblem. Florists quickly began to reap the benefits. Soon confectioners and card companies wanted a piece of the action, and the holiday got commercialized to such an extent that Anna Jarvis could hardly recognize it. 

     "This is not what I intended," Anna wrote in letters to hundreds of newspapers. "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit." 

     She spent the rest of her life (and life savings) in desperate battle against those who didn't demonstrate the proper piety and respect for what she considered a holy day.

     Thank you Anna Jarvis for commemorating your mother and all mothers with a Holiday because all Mothers deserve a holiday!  Their selfless nurturing, 24/7, certainly entitles them to a day to be doted on and acknowledged, whether by call, card, hugs and kisses, flowers, pampering at the spa, vacation or some other 'thoughtful' act.  

      It is my hope, that children and adult children show their appreciation in many ways, all year long!  Personally, I favor the hugs, kisses and "I love yous!".  HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ALL!!!   Hugs, Amy

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