When I was a child, I looked forward to Mother’s Day with extreme excitement. Not the waiting-for-Santa-Claus type of holiday thrill, but the anticipated joy of putting a smile on my mother’s face by delivering the classic breakfast in bed on the day meant to honor her.
Later in life, I learned from my stepdad who spent years in the wholesale fish business that Mother’s Day is among the busiest restaurant days of the year. Maybe that’s because burnt toast and cold eggs, no matter how lovingly prepared, isn’t the most satisfying meal? More likely, dinner out has taken root in our society as a way to give mom the day off from her presumed traditional daily role of cooking family meals.
Times have changed, and with them traditions, too. I know many dads who do more cooking than moms, and many families who eat out most nights, making the holiday restaurant meal less special. While I suspect my daughters 7 and 8½ are scheming right now about what breakfast to deliver to my bedside this Mother’s Day morning, they are old enough to relate to our own family traditions, which are more about connecting with each other and with Mother Earth.
I’ve confessed that my “seasonally ecstatic disorder” makes me want to mark most holidays by celebrating cycles in the natural world (I typically plant lettuce on St. Patricks Day). On Mother’s Day, I enjoy being a mom to the fullest sharing my passions with my family, and making time to enjoy the natural world that nurtures our bodies and souls.
My traditions begin with physical labor. Not the kind that brought my children into the world but something more pleasant! Rather than lounge in bed on Mother’s Day morning, waiting for the toast (or maybe after consuming it appreciatively), my husband, kids and I (often along with my mother, who usually spends the holiday with us) don rubber boots and head to our nearby strawberry field. Here, we pick conditions permitting upwards of 40 pounds of juicy, ripe berries.
The outing yields sweet treats for weeks to come, making the holiday last more than a day. But it also gives us a chance to reward our local farmers for the work they put into growing this fabulous produce a task (not unlike a mother’s raising of her children) that requires dedication, long days, and patience. And it comes with setbacks big and small the farm lost over 90 percent of its harvest a few years back due to extreme weather, a phenomenon plaguing many fruit crops.
Next is the issue of cooking. It may be unthinkable for most moms to spend time in the kitchen on Mother’s Day, but leaving 40 pounds of ripe strawberries piled in their boxes on the counter (especially if picked on a hot or wet day) is like leaving your baby in a soiled diaper. To protect and extend the sweetness of our harvest, we have to quickly store them when we get home.