Let’s celebrate May…
May is a beautiful month, especially for nature lovers. May 1st is May Day, which is a holiday celebrated in many countries around the world. It is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival. Late May marks the unofficial start of summer, and for many children, the end of the school year. Winter is long gone, flowers are in bloom, and the trees are showing off their leafy branches. Summer will arrive in a few weeks, but before that happens, let’s celebrate this month. Each month has stories to tell and this month has an outstanding one.
In the US, the two big days in May are Mother’s Day, celebrated the second Sunday in May, and Memorial Day, celebrated the last Monday of the month. Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, commemorates all men and women who have died in military service for the country. It is said that this holiday originally honored the Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. After WWI, it was expanded to include all men and women who had died in any war or military conflict. Flags are displayed and wreaths are placed on grave sites. The day is observed in many cities and towns with a Memorial Day parade and is often thought of as the unofficial start of the summer season.
This holiday celebration and our celebration of Mother’s Day have some elements in common. On each holiday we recognize a specific group of people; each of us seeks ways to honor, to show reverence, and to find ways to show our appreciation for those being honored, for their sacrifices for us.
Mother’s Day was the brainchild of Anna Jarvis, who, following her mother’s death in 1905, conceived of Mother’s Day as a way to honor the sacrifices mothers make for their children. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Today, we celebrate our mothers by giving cards, gifts, and flowers. Many mothers are taken out to eat at a special restaurant. Many children make a special effort to be with their mother, grandmother, or mother-surrogate. If children live far away from their mothers, they call. Indeed, it is said more phone calls are made on this day than any other day, and it is the most popular day of the year to dine out.
If you believe that Mother’s Day has been too commercialized and robbed of its original meaning, you are not alone. By 1920, Anna Jarvis herself had become disgusted with how Mother’s Day had been commercialized, and she actively denounced the transformation of the holiday. But, while recognizing the commercialism involved in this celebration, most of us, I think, enjoy the attention, appreciation, and affection given to us by our children.
I see Mother’s Day as an opportunity to express gratitude, to solidify our relationship with our mother, to reach out to heal any old wounds, and to forge an adult-child/mother relationship that is both healing and nurturing. This may be easier said than done for some relationships than others, but I believe it is critically important for both parent and child. No matter how difficult the effort, the rewards are more than you can imagine, enriching your life and giving it more meaning.
In keeping with Mother’s Day, I suggest two more holidays for May: National Wonderful Children’s Day, honoring those little people who will grow up to save the environment, make friends with Mother Nature, and treat our planet with more respect and reverence than we have shown it. Once that celebration is in place, I propose a National Happy Family Day, paying tribute to those families who show up every day to support and love their children, making it possible for them to grow into healthy adults, ready to face the challenges they will experience on their journey. This is an awesome task, and when it is done well, we all benefit.