Let’s take a look at Mother’s Day. This past Sunday, May 9, was a day to honor mothers. Mother’s Day as a national observance was made by official announcement of then President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. The proclamation stated that it was to be held each year on the second Sunday in May. The Mother’s Day flower selected was the carnation, so chosen because it represents sweetness, purity and the enduring qualities of a mother’s love.
The custom of wearing a flower, whether carnation or whatever might be blooming the second Sunday in May, became symbolic. If persons wore a white flower, it indicated their mother had died already but was remembered with dignity and respect. If persons wore a red flower, they still had the privilege of their mother being alive.
In the Choestoe Church of my childhood, we had preaching on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. That was well and good for the observance of Mother’s Day, because our pastor would be present at his charge. We could expect to see the ladies and girls wearing spring dresses, whether made from yard goods from the local merchandise store or “feed-sack” dresses made from calico yardage from bags that had held feed for farm animals. The cloth had been laundered carefully, and turned into a comely garment at the hands of seamstress Mother at her treadle Singer sewing machine. Whichever was the source of our new spring finery, we felt well-dressed and in mutual company with cousins and neighbors who were like-wise clad. Even the new shirts the men and boys wore may have been homemade by spouses and mothers in the congregation. And there, on the lapel of shirts or pinned to the dresses would be the white or red flowers—usually early-blooming roses—to honor mothers.
In my memory I recall that the pastor’s sermon was based on verses from that inimitable “Godly Woman” passage found in Proverbs 31:10-31. What better description of mother and industrious woman can be found? The oldest and the youngest mother present were always recognized. All mothers were admonished to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
It was not Mother’s Day, but the day after Valentine’s Day when my own mother’s funeral was held at Choestoe Church. I was only fourteen years of age at the time. But that same pastor, Rev. Claud Boynton, read from Proverbs 31:10-31 and extolled the virtues of a godly woman and good mother. Grieving and young as I was, I had the thought that a great tribute to any woman would be the privilege of having that particular passage read at her funeral.
This past Sunday as you observed Mother’s Day and remembered your own mother, or felt pride in your own privilege of being a mother (and even a grandmother), I trust that you were strengthened in faith because you had a godly mother to emulate.
Then there was the observance of Children’s Day. As I recall, this program, when the children did recitations, sang songs and perhaps did a mini-drama, was sometimes a part of the Mother’s Day celebrations at the church. Our Sunday School teachers worked with us weeks in advance of Children’s Day to insure that we knew our lines and could recite them well. This program was, in itself, a tribute to mothers as they proudly watched their children demonstrating what they had learned of Bible verses memorized, character traits engrained through some little playlet, or songs that taught faith and doctrines. Of course the children were too young to know why these programs were important to their early Christian training. But somehow the experience of participating gave us confidence, instilled in our eager minds the feeling of belonging, and assured us that we were an important part of the church and its training. These memories of Children’s Days at church weave a fabric of appreciation for growing up in the country and having a good church and a good home.
Recall some of your early years. See what facets of your upbringing fashioned your life and made you who you are today. Maybe your own memories of celebrating Mother’s Day and Children’s Day will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling deep inside as they did me.
c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published May 13, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.