Do you know the common link is between the second Sunday in May, the highest number of phone calls in one day, packed restaurants and Anna Jarvis? The connection goes back over 100 years. Mother’s Day is the touch point.

Joyce Gingerich, Dennis' Mom

Joyce Gingerich, Dennis’ Mom

Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker nearly 150 years ago, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community. She believed this cause would be best advocated by mothers, so she called it “Mother’s Work Day.”

In 1905 when Anna Jarvis died, her daughter (also named Anna), began a campaign to memorialize the work of her mother. It is said that Ann remembered a lesson her mom taught at church where she said, “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers.”

So Anna began to lobby prominent business and political leaders, including Presidents Taft and Roosevelt, to support her mom’s dream of a special day to honor mothers. In 1908, at her church in West Virginia, Anna organized a service to celebrate her mom and handed out her mother’s favorite flower, the white carnation. Five years later, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for officials of the federal government to wear white carnations on Mother’s Day. Finally, in 1914, Anna’s efforts paid off when President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.

Linda, Dennis’ Wife

Over the last 99 years, Mother’s Day has progressed from writing letters to mom, attending church with her and eventually sending cards, presents and flowers. With the increased consumerism and evidence of the sentiment being sacrificed at the expense of greed and profit, Anna Jarvis became so enraged that she filed a lawsuit to stop a Mother’s Day festival. Before her death in 1948, Jarvis actually said she regretted ever starting the Mother’s Day tradition.

Mother’s Day has flourished in the United States. It is the most popular day of the year to eat out, telephones lines record their highest traffic of the year and over 9 million greeting cards were sent in 2012, making Mother’s Day the third largest in holiday card volume.

Charissa Higdon, Dennis and Linda's Daughter

Charissa, Dennis’ Daughter

But beyond all the facts and history, this is the day to celebrate and honor mothers, motherhood, step moms, foster moms and the influence of any other mother figure in your life. Everyone has a mother. No exceptions. Some of us have the privilege of our mothers who still influence our lives. Some of you are mothers. Some of you have mothered someone else’s child. Some of you moms have experienced the pain of losing a child. The circumstances of your birth might mean you don’t know who your mother is. Maybe your mother is no longer living and this is a difficult day for you. Maybe you are not relationally connected to your mother and the thought of Mother’s Day stirs up more pain. I pray you will be able to express your appreciation to some woman who reflects the positive characteristics of a mom in your life.

For me personally, this will be a very special Mother’s Day. My mother Joyce is 80 and still living. My wife Linda of 38 years is the amazing mother of our two awesome sons and a very lovely daughter. My daughter in-love Lisa is a super mom to our two grand daughters. And to top it all off, that beautiful daughter of ours is a mother-to-be for the first time, carrying twins—our third granddaughter and our first grandson—due in August.  It will be an extra special Mother’s Day in our household. May God bless your Mother’s Day celebrations!

QUESTION: What’s your best memory of your mom or mother figure?  We’d love to hear it in the comment section below.


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