Sunday, May 12, 2013

Honoring Mom

A lady in my church has been known to say, “Every day that ends in ‘Y’ should be Mother’s Day.”

She may be close to the truth.  Around the world, people in various countries honor their mothers on a multitude of days – from the second Sunday in February in Norway to December 22nd in Indonesia, and many more days in between.

In many places, though, the second Sunday in May is the one set aside to honor Mom.  This modern tradition was began by a woman named Anna Jarvis from Webster, West Virginia, who got the date nationally recognized in 1914.  It’s said that by 1920, though, she was disappointed in the commercialization of the holiday.

Commercialization or no, as long as there’s been a Mother’s Day, there has also been the problem of what to get Mom for Mother’s Day.  Do you believe her when she tells you, “Just a card would be fine”?  Do the kids serve her breakfast in bed (so she ends up washing the dishes afterward)? Do you take her to a calorie-laden brunch in a crowded buffet restaurant when she decided the day before to go on a diet?  Do you get her flowers?  A book?  Jewelry? 

A Mother's Day card is usually a pretty safe bet.  When I go to estate sales, I see Mother’s Day cards all the time – usually signed by the husband and/or the kids, carefully tucked into a box and saved by the recipient. 

At the recent sale of the estate of a long-retired local jeweler and watchmaker, I spotted a number of mid-century “mother’s brooches” from his store’s old stock. Each brooch was a different design – a tree of life, a bow, a circle. 

The buyer would have had to have planned ahead, to give one of these as a gift. The jeweler would need some time to mount a different colored birthstone (or rather, a rhinestone colored to look like the real gemstone) representing each family member in the sterling silver gold-filled brooch.  (If there were more spots for stones on the brooch than the mom had close family members, the extra stones would be clear rhinestones. She could always have the brooch updated every time a new kid or grandkid came along.)  And then the brooch would be proudly given to Mom on Mother’s Day, with love from all her family. 

When these vintage brooches were made – probably in the 1950s and 1960s – Mom would have proudly worn hers on the lapel of her jacket when she went to church on Mother’s Day, then throughout the year on other special occasions.  Judging from the number of these mother’s brooches for sale on eBay and etsy, it looks like they’re still pretty popular. 

Mother's Day is a time-honored tradition.  Actually, we’re giving one of the brooches that came from the estate sale to a certain mom this year.  My friend Peggy, a vintage jewelry expert and craftsperson extraordinaire, set the stones in one of the new-old-stock brooches.  It came out nicely, don’t you think? 

Not as nice as the lady who's receiving it, of course.

Happy Mother’s Day. 


The American Gem Society has a list of birthstones here:

Peggy’s work can be seen at




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