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May 7, 2008 > Celebrating Mom

Celebrating Mom

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco
Photos By courtesy of Shari Wargo

How do you celebrate Mother's Day? Do you send mom a spring bouquet, hand her a box of chocolates, a shiny piece of jewelry in a box, or treat her to a delicious buffet spread? Maybe you're very busy, mom lives across the country and all you have time for is to send a card. Make it better... how about a phone call? No matter how we wish "Happy Mothers' Day" to our moms (and the other mothers in our lives), our goal is the same: to let her know that she is loved and appreciated.

The origin of this holiday - aside from Hallmark cards - is open to speculation. Ancient Greeks held a festival to honor and worship Cybele, mother of Greek gods. Ancient Romans celebrated Matronalia, a holiday that venerated Juno, goddess of marriage and queen of the gods. Mothers were given presents during Matronalia.

For most of the past century, Americans have celebrated Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May each year. It all started in 1870, when social activist Julia Ward Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was influenced by the work of feminine advocate Ann Jarvis. Howe wanted to unite women against the Civil War and wrote the "Mother's Day Proclamation" as a call for peace and disarmament.

Although attempts to formalize "Mother's Day for Peace" failed, Howe's efforts were not lost on Jarvis' daughter Anna, a Sunday school teacher who wanted to memorialize her mother and other women. Finally, on May 10, 1908, the first "Mothers' Day" was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia. The custom caught on and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially declared the first national Mothers' Day.

President Wilson issued a Mothers' Day proclamation on May 9, 1914:

"Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

"Mothers' Day is the celebration of the women in your life who love, teach and support you every day," exclaimed Misty DeFord of Union City. DeFord is mom to Faith Alyssa who passed away in 2006 at the age of 15 months and Andrew James, currently 18 months old. She is a busy young mother who works full-time from home, co-organizes the Tri-City Parents Group and co-authors the Bay Area Mommy Blog ( DeFord is also the Director of Angel Wing Parents, a non-profit support/social network for parents grieving over the loss of their children. "This year, I actually get to celebrate Mother's Day twice!" she exclaimed. DeFord plans to relax and enjoy a leisurely Sunday with her family. After attending church service, her mom will be treated to lunch and gifts are exchanged. "My second celebration will be with the moms of The Tri-City Parents Group. The moms in our group work very hard to take care of their families and we wanted to do something to give them a break. This year, we will be holding a 'Mom's Night Out of Pampering.' We are still hoping to get donations from local vendors to hand out little gift bags to these hard-working mommies."

Though the Mom's Night Out of Pampering is only for members of the Tri-City Parents Group, there are other events around the Tri-City area open to the public. Ardenwood Farms will have a "Mother's Day Mother-Daughter Tea" served at the historic Patterson House. At Ardenwood's "flower power" activity, children can make a lovely May flower basket, or create a tussie-mussie (Victorian nosegays with messages) for mom.

Those still looking for Mothers' Day activities can consider spending some time with Mother Nature at the Sunol Regional Wilderness. Celebrate "springtime greenery and late-blooming wildflowers," make floral origami, learn about flower and function or go for a 1.5-mile-hike and have a picnic. Children who want to surprise mom with something they made themselves can create flower arrangements at Kid's Day at Fremont Flowers or homemade craft at the Newark Library.

If celebrating mom means a nice brunch or intimate dinner, you're not alone. Research conducted by the National Restaurant Association ( showed that "more than six out of 10 Americans (62 percent) who celebrate Mother's Day with a special meal will enjoy it in one of the nation's 945,000 restaurants."

However you decide to celebrate the special mothers in your life, make sure they know that they are loved and appreciated. They deserve it! For DeFord, "being a mom means happiness." She added, "[It] means getting spit up on, pee-peed on, and sneezed on, but not worrying about the mess. Being a mom means not always knowing the right thing to do, but finding the strength within to do what needs to be done. Being a mom means putting your family first."

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