Nearly 100 years ago, a determied woman named Anna Jarvis crusaded for a national holiday to honor America's mothers. After a long campaign, she finally wrested President Woodrow Wilson's attention away from World War I and onto this more pressing issue of Mother's Day. In 1914, Wilson signed the proclamation, I suppose, just to get this woman off his back.
This means we all know whom to thank for the annual onslaught of magazine and newspaper articles titled "Great Gift Ideas To Show Mom How Much You Care." These articles all share one sure-fire, annoying feature, which is the accompanying photo of a glamorous mom sitting up brightly in her eider-down bed in her perfect negligee, hair immaculately brushed, make-up applied, as her Tom Cruise look-alike husband surprises her with breakfast in bed on a lovely cedar wood tray. Behind the Tom clone are three children, already dressed, or if not, at least in pajamas that are correct for the season, wearing matching tops and bottoms. These children do not have any cowlicked hair, Oreo cookie crumbs congealed around their mouths, or bad manners. They do not push and shove to the front, saying, "I want to give it to Mommy! My turn! My Turn! MY TURN!" No, they wait patiently, these odd children. Perhaps Tom already slipped them their first dose of Ritalin for the day.
The breakfast tray features fluffy French toast. It is not burned. It also features a cup of hot coffee, a glass of cold, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a single rose in a proper vase, not a mayonnaise jar. Tom has had a busy morning.
Of course, Mother looks exquisitely happy, because this is Her Day. Tom clone has arranged to take the children off to the park, since he has read that the gift of quiet time, alone, is really the perfect give for the woman he loves. He read this in either Woman's Day or Redbook magazine, he can't quite remember, since he perused so many magazines, hunting for just The Perfect Thing. He was even making a list of ingredients needed to bake his soul mate the bonnet-shaped cake (prep time 50 minutes), but was stymied when he realized he didn't know what a springform pan was, nor did he know anyone whom he could ask without giving away his secret. He also contemplated the booklet of hand-made coupons good for a massage, candlelit dinner for two, and a movie night when the kids slept at Grandma's. Ultimately, though, Tom and his well-behaved children presented Mom, who has no stretch marks or a single gray hair, with a gift certificate to a day at the spa.
So while Tom blissfully pushes the kids on the swings at the park and passes out peanut-butter sandwiches, Mom will idle the day away at the spa. She will begin with a luxurious mineral bath and a Shiatsu massage (so good for the circulation), by a woman named Petra. After a gourmet 500-calorie lunch personally prepared by Wolfgang Puck, Mom's afternoon is filled with appointments for a full body seaweed wrap, exfoliating facial with mud imported from Hungary, and a beauty makeover. Not that she needs it.
Oh, you mean that's not how your Mother's Day usually goes?
Oh, you mean that's not how your Mother's Day usually goes? You mean, you had to drop hints beginning in March that Mother's Day was around the corner, leaving sticky notes on mirrors and sending anonymous e-mails to your husband and all you ended up with was a George Foreman grill back in 1998? This happened to me, too, until I took more decisive action. Last year, I paid a skywriter to write my husband's initials followed by the words, "Diamonds Are A Grill's Best Friend" outside his office. But even this hint was too obtuse, as I received, instead, a Black & Decker Lawn Hog Electric Mulching Mower with Flip Handle.
This year, I am pulling no punches.
I have affixed the following warning label to every beer bottle in the house. It reads, "Anna Jarvis gave her life during World War I so that mothers could live in dignity one lousy day of the year. This year, that day is May 10. Think precious metals, and remember: I already have a Dustbuster. Don't blow it."
Wish me luck.