It’s Mother’s Day! The one day each year we sit Mom down in the easy chair with a big glass of her favourite tipple while we make supper, for a change. Yes, Mother’s Day is a big deal across the western world, especially when you muse on the fact that it started out as a religious observance…
A 2021-style Mother’s Day Message from KFC: In Fact, the Colonel has been
portrayed as Mom’s supper time saviour any day of the week for decades!
Unlike some other major annual celebrations, Mother’s Day as we know it does not go back to some arcane medieval observance or ancient fertility rite. It was, in fact, invented by an American gal who simply wanted to honour mothers – all mothers – for their key role in society.
According to Wikipedia: ” The modern holiday began […] at the initiative of Anna Maria Jarvis (see photo, left) in the early 20th century, who organized the first Mother’s Day service of worship and celebration at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, which serves as the International Mother’s Day Shrine today. It is not directly related to the many traditional celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have existed throughout the world over thousands of years, such as the Greek cult to Cybele, the mother deity Rhea, the Roman festival of Hilaria, or the other Christian ecclesiastical Mothering Sunday celebration (associated with the image of Mother Church). However, in some countries, Mother’s Day is still synonymous with these older traditions.”
Jarvis was an activist
“Jarvis’ mother had frequently expressed a desire for the establishment of such a holiday, and after her mother’s death, Jarvis led the movement for the commemoration. […] On May 10, 1908, three years after her mother’s death, Jarvis held a memorial ceremony to honor her mother and all mothers at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, marking the first official observance of Mother’s Day. The International Mother’s Day Shrine has been a designated National Historic Landmark since October 5, 1992. However, as the years passed, Jarvis grew disenchanted with the growing commercialization of the observation (she herself did not profit from the day) and even attempted to have Mother’s Day rescinded. She died in a sanitarium, her medical bills paid by people in the floral and greeting card industries.”
Cards and flowers…
So, as you can see, it didn’t take long for the greeting card and florist industries to get involved in Mother’s Day. The Confectioners were not far behind. And, now, the restaurateurs are in there for all they’re worth. No wonder Jarvis was ticked off at the crass commercialization of her creation. Today, we don’t even think of the religious and spiritual roots of Mother’s Day any more.
Sharing a meal
I think we all know that, in western society, one of the greatest honours one person can bestow on another is the invitation to share a meal. It’s an even bigger to-do when one is invited to share in a family repast on a special occasion. The idea that Mother’s Day should include a special celebratory luncheon or supper has long been a major feature of the modern celebration.
The notion that the rest of the family should prepare – or at least provide – the feast while Mom relaxes and gets spoiled up to her ear lobes sort of comes from that. But it’s more directly traceable to the notion that important celebrations are almost always marked by gala feasts.
What to serve?
I think we all start by reviewing Mom’s food preferences when trying to decide what to feed her on Mother’s Day.
My late, beloved step-dad, Graeme, had it all worked out. His ‘Mother’s Day Protocol’ was unvarying, and he loved carrying it through as much as Mom loved being at the centre of it. It started with Breakfast in Bed first thing in the morning, moved on to a Light Luncheon whose menu did vary, but always involved Lobster or Shrimp. He loved Seafood Salads! This is also where the tippling began, usually with Pink Champagne. Supper was a big event and usually (after all the personal work and attention he lavished on the earlier aspects of the day) involved everyone (closest immediate family only) getting gussied up and going out for a really snazzy meal. He had a list of ‘famous’ and ‘exclusive’ restaurants he’d heard of, or read reviews of in the papers or weekend magazines. Mom would have had to have lived to about 150 to have visited them all at least once on ‘her day’!
A relic of the past
Alas! We don’t do Mother’s Day the way we used to – if Dad’s ‘protocol’ is any guide. Especially these days since we’re now into our second COVID-19-crumpled version of the event. Even if fine dining establishments are available where you live (i.e.- not locked down), and you could overlook the bother of wearing a mask and observing health and safety precautions, most of us now keep Mother’s Day at home, anyway.
So… What IS your mom’s favourite meal? Are you confident you could make it yourself? Or could find an order-in version worthy of Mom’s palate?
If you need a place to start, just ask her. My Mom surprised me a few years back – after Dad has been gone for more than a decade, and his celebrations were mere golden memories – when I asked her, simply, what she’d enjoy most for Mother’s Day dinner.
“KFC!” she said, without hesitation. “With this fixation of yours on cooking, we hardly ever get it anymore!”
So, there you go. At age 92, she still had the capacity to surprise me! Heck, she’s 96, now, and she still surprises me!
Since then, we’ve pretty much gone KFC or Chinese Food, depending on what Mom’s stomach is saying to her the day.
One more good thing…
If you simply do take-out or delivery for Mother’s Day supper, you also get to sit back and and tap the keg (so to speak), rather than working yourself silly all day.
Now, I’ll admit that Chinese Food, French Champagne, Scottish Liqueur (Heather-steeped Glayva; the toast: ‘Mother! Bless her, keep her and cherish her always!’) and Aunt Door’s famous Butter Tarts for dessert makes for a curious-come-nutty nosh. But Mom (and the rest of us) wouldn’t have it any other way!
~ Maggie J.