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All America's moms
May 8, 2007

Folks crowd around the President, pressing politely to get a better view. The tension builds. Slowly, with great dignity he takes up a pen and signs his name. He turns in his seat and hands the pen to the woman standing by his side. She gives him a carnation.

It is official. From this day forward (May 9, 1914) the second Sunday of May is officially Mother's Day in the United States of America. The proclamation declares that the American flag shall fly on government buildings and on homes "as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

The President is Woodrow Wilson. The woman is Anna Jarvis. She has waited many years for this day, maybe her entire lifetime, for she did not conceive of the idea of a special day to honor mothers. Her own mother, Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis, is her inspiration.

In the mid-1800s Anna Marie lived with her family in Taylor County of what would become West Virginia. Along with her physician brother, she was concerned with the health conditions of poor children. Together they formed Mother's Day Friendship Clubs where mothers came together to learn about good health care—why it was important to boil water, how to prevent food from spoiling—simple tasks that in those hard days could save their children's lives.

Anna Marie and the club members became involved in the Civil War, but not as partisans of either side. Rather, by promoting the sanitation methods and doing actual nursing, they saved many lives on both sides.

After the war, Anna Marie dedicated herself to bringing conciliation to those that the war had alienated. She established a family day picnic she called "Mother's Friendship Day." Its stated purpose was to honor mothers, but she intended it to reunite neighbors.

According to an account by Sen. John D. Rockefeller of West Virginia, "Following a prayer, the band began to play 'Should Auld Acquaintances Be Forgot.' By the time they reached the word 'forgot' neighbors were weeping and shaking hands."

Anna Marie spent the rest of her life in this effort. When she died in 1905, her daughter, also Anna Jarvis, wanted to honor her mother. She wanted to do more. She remembered the words of her mother, "I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother's day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers."

Anna became determined that there should be a national Mother's Day marked by her mother's favorite flower, the carnation. In 1907 she held a memorial service for her mother at the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, W.Va. The next year the service honored all mothers. Today that church is the International Mother's Day Shrine.

In 1910, West Virginia established an official Mother's Day. In 1911, all states had an official observance. Then there was the momentous occasion at the White House exactly 93 years ago today!

This Sunday we'll celebrate all our moms. It's easy to run into a gift shop or department store (especially the perfume department) and pick up a gift for Mom. But if you have young ones (or a creative and fun-loving older one) around the house, you can make a gift that Mom will especially treasure.

Here's one idea we offered for Father's Day several years ago. I've adapted it to make it extra special for Mom.

Kisses and a Hug for Mom
1 large glass jar
Hershey kisses
1 pair brightly colored (maybe flowered) gardening gloves
One new pair of athletic socks (pick a pair that will fit Mom and that match the gloves)
Needle and thread

Paint the jar lid or cover it with foil. (You can use any decorative glass container.)

Fill the jar with Hershey kisses and replace the lid.

Now tack the socks together, toe-to-toe. Then, tack one glove to the end of each sock. Wow! Arms and hands!

Wrap the arms around the jar several times, cross the hands at the front and tack them together.

You've got a whole bunch of kisses and a hug to give to Mom (or Grandmom) when she wakes up.

Tasty options
Dining out on Mother's Day is traditional in many families. (Did you know that it's the busiest day of the year for America's restaurants?) Other families—like ours—prefer to honor Mom by presenting her with breakfast in bed.

Fix up a tray with pretty flowers and the best dishes. Mom won't be too choosy about what appears on them. Maybe she'd rather merely have coffee and come to the table for a loving family brunch.

Here's a great brunch recipe with a neat, and well-traveled, story. Linda Clayton Hicks is a friend from high school days in Amarillo, Texas. Now she lives in Belmont, Mass. Recently she e-mailed me a recipe claiming it "the world's best frittata!" I think she's right and I can't imagine a better Mother's Day brunch dish.

When I asked if I could use the recipe, she allowed as how it came from former neighbors, Jeffrey and Margaret Lucas. Linda called the Lucas household to see if I can pass it on here. Margaret OK'd it, but gave full credit to her husband. And here it is!

Jeffrey Lucas' World's Best Frittata!
1½ pound bulk sausage
9 eggs beaten
3 cups milk
1½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
3 slices bread (remove crust, cut into 1/4-inch cubes)
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces package cream cheese (cut into tiny pieces)

Cook sausage.

Combine all ingredients and pour into greased 13-by-9-by-2 baking dish; cover with aluminum foil. Refrigerate overnight.

Next morning, bake at 350 degrees an hour, maybe a little longer. Leave it covered for the first half hour.

Linda, tongue in check, declares that each serving has only 18 calories. My guess is that on Mother's Day, it will only be 10!

Sunday, we'll be eating it at our house after we give an orange juice toast to Anna Marie and Anna Jarvis along with Woodrow Wilson. We will make sure the American flag is waving in the breeze honoring all America's moms.


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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network