The correct answer to this question won the contestant a cool million bucks on the game show, 1 vs. 100: "According to Hallmark, what is the biggest card-giving holiday of the year – Christmas, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day?”
I only bring it up because one of those holidays is coming up next Sunday (and if you have to check your calendar to find out which one, I’m betting your mother doesn’t brag about you very often to her bridge club.)
The thing about Mother’s Day is that it is actually two distinctly different occasions, depending upon where you are on the "Mom Timeline.” Here’s what it’s like when you are a little kid: Early in the week, a grownup (your Brownie leader) guides you through the process of making "something special” for your mother – usually a corsage fashioned out of Kleenex, doused with enough cheap perfume to render it un-wearable. On Mother’s Day proper, another grownup (your Dad) steers you into the kitchen to "help” make breakfast for Mom. It is served to her in bed, along with a sappy card Dad has bought for you to sign in your very best handwriting, which she clutches to her breast and vows to cherish forever. Later that morning still a third grownup (your Sunday school teacher) forces you to promise to be nice ALL DAY LONG, which is only doable if you have no siblings. Typically you see very little of your own mother on this special day, because she is busy taking advantage of the ultimate Mother’s Day payoff – an uninterrupted four-hour afternoon nap. Is it any wonder then, that in terms of a holiday, most kids give this one a big fat zero?
A few years later, however, Mother’s Day takes a decided turn for the better. Simply by virtue of being a mother, you have now earned all the rights and privileges thereof, and woe to the Brownie leader/Dad/Sunday school teacher who drops the ball in making it happen. Here’s what the holiday is like, once you are a Mom: On the 2nd Sunday in May you remain firmly planted in bed, despite the clattering of skillets, a distinct odor of burning bacon, and overheard discussions about whether to put jelly on the bread before or after it goes into the toaster. Moments later your little family piles on your bed, jostling for prime real estate and spilling the already cold coffee all over your new duvet. You are given "something special” – a stinky Kleenex corsage and a sappy card signed by your offspring in their very best handwriting, which you clutch to your breast and vow to cherish forever.
The rest of the day you are forbidden to lift a finger, even to clean up the disaster in your kitchen (don’t worry; it’ll still be there tomorrow.) Finally, ignoring the muffled strains of, "You’re not the boss of me!” and "I’m telling!” you grit your teeth and put a pillow over your caffeine-deprived throbbing head, in a determined effort to take a nap. And you love every single minute of the whole experience.
These days I look at Mother’s Day from a multi-generational perspective. There are four marks along the timeline now – my own mother, myself, my children and my grandchildren. I’ll buy my Mom a card, and knowing me it’ll be a silly one – probably an old couple making wisecracks about hearing loss. My son and daughter will each purchase equally funny cards for me with vintage photos of fifties-style housewives griping about domestic chores. My grandchildren will give their Mommy a card, and they’ll even make one for me too. 4-year-old Aidan will draw himself as a pirate and write his name in giant letters in his very best handwriting, and two-year-old Avery will make scribbledy scrawls all over the page. These cards will join literally thousands of other cards given to precious Moms all over the country, who will clutch them to their breasts and vow to cherish them forever.
And that brings me back to the question from the game show about the biggest card-giving holiday of the year. If you answered "Mother’s Day”, you would have joined every other person in the "Mob” who said the same thing. And you would be absolutely wrong, which is why the contestant, Jason Luna, won a million dollars. He was the only one with the correct answer, "Christmas.”
Now I ask you – is that a son you could brag about to your bridge club or what?!?