Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Cards and Flowers

When I was in law school, Mother's Day always fell right around finals. One year, I had a late final or a paper due or something, so I told my mom that there was no way that I'd be able to come down for the weekend. Then, when she and the entire family were out to dinner, I magically showed up, flowers in hand. She was so surprised to see me -- much as she was when I did the same thing for her birthday a couple of years ago -- but she lied and told me that she thought I'd be there. The truth is that she knew I would do something -- I always did something -- but she had no idea that I'd get in the car and drive for four-and-a-half hours just to turn around and head back the next day.

The real truth was that I hated not being with her on Mother's Day. Celebrations like that were very important to her.

One year, a long time ago -- back when I was still a teenager, maybe in my first year of college by then -- my mom and my sister got in a bad fight right before Mother's Day -- so my sister ignored her for the weekend.

That was so not my mom's style -- she'd get angry and then forget why she was angry about 10 minutes later -- or maybe the next day if it was really bad. So my mom wound up being upset that my sister was mad at her, but she was really bothered by the fact that that my sister didn't wish her a happy Mother's Day, or even give her a card.

Of course, I tried to negotiate a truce, and found out the truth: My sister had gotten my mom a card, but didn't give it to her as "punishment," like how you would take a favorite toy away from a misbehaving child.

But I digress. What I really mean to say is that this is the first holiday that she's not around, and it's way harder than I thought it would be.

According to a survey, this year, consumers plan on spending about $15.8 billion on gifts for Mother's Day. In 2007, the same survey indicated that consumers planned to spend $15.73 billion.

Not me. This year I am doing nothing.

Yesterday, I told my Nana that I couldn't even bring myself to go into the Hallmark store -- right downstairs -- to get her a card. Not surprisingly, she understood that I'm just not in the mood for it.

I don't think she knows how bad it is. Every time I see an ad on tv, or get an email from one of the places I used to send my mother flowers in years past, I get annoyed. I think I'm just about ready to add 1-800-Flowers and ProFlowers and FTD to my spam filter. All that marketing is really just too much for someone who just lost their mother. It borders on offensive.

No, that's not exactly right: It feels like a kick to the stomach.

You would think that the retailers would have done some kind of survey on that.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

The 'firsts' are the most difficult: Anniversaries, Birthdays, Mother's Day. Holidays can be a painful reminder of loss, they also can serve as a reminder of what an awesome Mom you had.

You aren't going to be able to not think about her on Sunday, so you may as well concentrate on your happier memories of her time on Earth, and honor her in whatever way you are able.

Paige Jennifer said...

Not the same but similar - my dad, a one-time all star athlete with an invitation to try out for the Phillies, now struggles to walk while using a walker. And yet companies send him catalogs for athletic gear. I try to trash them before he gets to the mail but sometimes I'm not fast enough.

I know this weekend will be tough. Just try and hang in there and know people are thinking about you.

dara said...

freckledk: Thanks. I really do understand that. The truth is that more than anything else, it's the commercialization that's getting to me (it wouldn't be the first time!). The idea being projected is that the only way that people can properly honor their mothers is by spending a ton of money on flowers, jewelry, etc. I want to grab people and shake them and tell them that it's not true -- just spend time with your mom while you can.

PJ: The kick in the gut analogy is accurate, right?

It's nice if people are thinking of me, but when they do, I hope that they understand what I'm saying. Do something nice for -- and hopefully with -- your moms -- but don't buy into the greeting card/jewelry/flower retailers' hype.

mad said...

Hang in there, Dara. Time does heal some wounds.

tingb said...

I have to say, this is one thing that hasn't gotten better with time, for me at least. Father's Day marketing is so aggressive, and so intense, and so packed into a short period of time, that it's been a gut-punch every time. Mother's Day might be worse because the marketing is more flowers-and-sentiment than the ads where kids throw a football with their dads and then go to the Macy's Father's Day White Sale or whatever.

Anyway, rant over. Hang in there.