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Togetherness is the key to a happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Julia Spurlock, 4, prepares her wheelbarrow to help her grandmother, Mary Ann Spurlock, with yard work
(Photo Tim Jaynes, Staff)
Happy Mother's Day!

SIKESTON -- Whether viewed as a day of overblown commercialism or a time to spend with mom, Mother's Day is a necessity for most of today's moms.

"I think the mother is the backbone to the family," Betty Bixler of Sikeston said.

Although the 70-year-old mother of two, grandmother of four and great-

grandmother of one thinks the holiday, like so many others, has become too commercialized, she doesn't see anything wrong with it.

Bixler said she usually wears a corsage -- usually an orchid she purchases herself -- to church and then spends the day at home. Her children will then come by to visit. In addition to spending time with her children, Bixler said she also spends part of the day thinking about her own mother.

"The gifts are not what the mothers want -- they just want the family to be together," Bixler said.

Bixler's sentiments about the holiday are similar to those of the holiday's founder, Anna Jarvis, who began working tirelessly back in 1905 to create a government-decreed day for mothers to rest. She envisioned that people would attend church and write notes to Mother, living or deceased.

''It was not a day to go to dinner or buy presents or anything else,'' says Olive Badisman, director of the Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum in Grafton, W.Va.

Jarvis was trying to honor her recently deceased mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, who had founded ''Mothers Day Work Clubs'' to improve health and sanitation conditions and lower children's mortality rates. (Anna Jarvis was one of 11 children, only four of whom made it to adulthood.)

Over the next decade, the Mother's Day campaign caught on, with many influential people joining. One year at her mother's church, Anna Jarvis distributed 500 white carnations -- her mother's favorite flower and one that ''never dies, it just withers,'' says Badisman.

Finally, the 1914 Congress and President Wilson established a day to emphasize women's roles in the family.

To Jarvis' outrage, florists, card and candy companies, and other businesses moved quickly to capitalize on the holiday's moneymaking potential. Jarvis unsuccessfully petitioned them to donate a small percentage of profits back to underprivileged women and children forced to live on ''poor farms.''

''They were making money off of her name and efforts,'' says Badisman, and for the rest of her life, Jarvis worked to de-commercialize and even rescind Mother's Day.

The holiday continues to be both a day to honor mothers and a top-selling day for retailers. Regardless, mothers of all ages celebrate it in their own ways.

Sharon Urhahn of Benton has spent past Mother's Days on the soccer field watching her daughter in action, but this year the 36-year-old mother of two will spend the holiday having lunch with her daughters and husband along with her mother, sisters and husband's family.

Urhahn said she didn't mind attending soccer games on the day set aside to honor mothers.

"You're watching the ballgame so it's pretty relaxing, and one tournament, the kids gave the mothers flowers," Urhahn recalled.

Although she doesn't expect gifts, it's the handmade, creative gifts Urhahn likes best. Over the years her daughters ages 6 and 8 have made trivets with a hand print on them, painted flower pots and coupons for chores.

"What I like the best is when the kids are still little and are excited about it. They make little things for you and that's when it's sweet," Urhahn said.

Andrea Harris of New Madrid has always enjoyed celebrating Mother's Day with her family. But this year, the holiday means more than it ever has -- it's her first one as a mother.

"I think it's great now that I have my own child. We've waited for him for a long time," said the 31-year-old mother of a 4-month-old. "Even though I had my mom -- and it's wonderful to have her -- it's not so exciting when you're not a mother."

Linda Johnson, 46, of Sikeston -- a mother and grandmother -- said the holiday is usually just a normal day for her.

"To me, there's not much of a change," Johnson said, then added: "Well, I guess I do feel like there is a special part of the day because it's honoring mothers."

Usually Johnson's husband will take her out to dinner on Saturday. Then on Sunday they go to church and have lunch after, Johnson said. Johnson will also visit her mother and mother-in-law at some point throughout the day.

"I think that's the big portion of what the day is about -- to be able to be with them. It doesn't have to be about lavish gifts," Johnson said.

Overall, Johnson thinks Mother's Day is a good idea.

"I think it's gotten a little too commercialized. It can put a lot of pressure and stress on some people, and I don't feel it should," Johnson said.

For Latina Hampton, 39, of Sikeston, Mother's Day isn't about her; it's about spending time with her mother. The mother of five children ranging in ages from 4 to 16 will visit her 84-year-old mother in Kennett.

Like Bixler, Hampton said she thinks there's a need for the holiday.

Hampton said: "We need to take that time to recognize our mothers -- and fathers on Father's Day -- because if we don't, we get too busy with day-to-

day things and don't take the time to do it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.