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May: A month for moms and memories

By Dr. William H. Baker

Contributing Columnist

The modern version of Mother’s Day was first celebrated more than a hundred years ago, and it has become one of the most important days of the year for most adults.

Memories of early childhood are generally focused on the love and care of the mother in the home of our youth. Our celebration honors the mother of the family, but it is also a tribute to motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in American life.

Hallmark Cards has reported that “almost 85 percent of adult men and women celebrate Mother’s Day.” And, that tends to be borne out by the fact that Mother’s Day is the third-largest card-sending occasion in the USA with 113 million cards exchanged annually.

There are other reports that show Mother’s Day is the second most popular day for gift-giving, following Christmas.

An article in the New York Times a few days ago was headlined “Just the Thing for Mom.” In response, a letter to the editor from an 80-year-old mother in Michigan pointed out that “…a handmade gift, even from a grown child, is precious.”

The lady expressed the joy many mothers experience when their children are in elementary school and bring home a handmade object, “…often crookedly made out of clay, like a misshapen little bowl, especially if it has the words ‘For My Mom’ carved into its side.”

Before the first Mother’s Day cards were created and produced on a mass scale in the early 1920s, there were songs, poems, and praise for mothers around the world.

The English poet Christina Rosetti, for example, had this bit of verse for her mom: “And may you happy live, And long us bless, Receiving as you give, Great happiness.”

Robert Louis Stevenson, another nineteenth century poet, included these thoughts in his poem “To My Mother.” “You too, my mother, read my rhymes For love of unforgotten times, And you may chance to hear once more the little feet along the floor.”

In more recent times, Dolly Parton paid a stirring tribute to her mother in a song that captured the song writer’s love and respect for her mother. “Coat of Many Colors” is a story that many mothers and daughters can relate to, particularly perhaps senior citizens in the tri-state area who experienced the hardships and the joys of growing up in a happy home during and following the Great Depression.

This weekend is the time to join with those in the past as well as those in the present in expressing our best wishes to all moms for a “Happy Mother’s Day!”

William H. Baker is a Claiborne County native and former Middlesboro resident. Email: wbaker@limestone.edu