I revel in spending a few hours as a family sorting, dabbing dry, slicing, freezing, and dreaming of the yummy concoctions to come from the fruits of our labor. We leave most of the baking for another day, but a no-bake strawberry pie is an absolute must on Mother’s Day, as are some strawberry drinks whipped up in the blender. Add a salad and quiche or roast turkey breast and we have a simple, delicious meal. Cooking brings me great personal joy, and teaching my girls the pleasure of cooking is one of my great joys as a mom. Plus, lingering in the kitchen and munching on fresh spring produce comes in lower-budget and lower-calorie than braving the restaurant crowds.
Third, on the matter of flowers. Traditionally, April showers have brought May flowers (although those patterns, too, are changing), so flowers make sense for Mother’s Day. I especially enjoy them while wandering outdoor gardens, or natural areas where wildflowers are in bloom. Since holidays are times for special experiences, we often use Mother’s Day weekend to explore places off of our typical path. Last year we visited Hillwood gardens, at the historic DC-area home of Margaret Merriweather Post. This year, my daughter suggested the gardens at Oatlands Plantation, where her father and I were married. What a sweet remembrance of where our “family life” started!
Finally, with regard to gifts, you might assume flowers would be perfect for me. They are, but cut bouquets are generally short-lived, in part because they are flown from far-away places, (adding a high carbon tally to their price tags) and picked days, or weeks, before. Rather than watching my family’s gift to me wilt quickly in a vase, I’d like to watch it grow for years to come. I’ve heard that plants are the Mother’s day gift of choice among rural farmers, and it strikes me as quite fitting to give a living thing on this day. So, I too, prefer plants, especially the flowering kind.
Literature is full of analogies between mothers and gardeners. Both require tenderness, nurturing, patience and persistence to ensure their charges – whether seedlings or children – flourish. Several years ago, my husband and girls planted a rhododendron for me. It is sadly now being eclipsed by a faster-growing plant, but the unfortunate placement reminds me of the many lessons my kids will learn as they grow themselves.
Why do I volunteer myself for so much work on Mother’s Day rather than pampering at the spa?
Well, like most moms, the best gift for me is the love that comes with sharing food and time together, and making new memories. There are other days for the spa!
Sarene Marshall is a Senior Advisor for The Nature Conservancy. Opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.
Photos courtesy of Sarene Marshall: 1) Sarene and her daughters pick strawberries together, a family Mother’s Day tradition. 2) In a three-generation photo, Sarene, her mother and daughters, at a family outing at the gardens at Hillwood estate.