The American tradition of Mother’s Day didn’t start out as a reminder to praise our mamas, but rather as a protest of war. Distraught by the carnage of the Civil War, Julia Ward Howe called on mothers to stop sending their sons to kill the sons of other mothers, proclaiming an international day of celebrating peace. Her holiday dreams dwindled in the bigger cities without adequate funding, but the idea was soon taken up again by a Virginia woman, Anna Reeves Jarvis, who wished to continue the day as Mother’s Friendship Day in order to reunite neighbors and families divided between the Union and Confederate sides.

In 1908, Anna’s daughter organized one of the first official Mother’s Day celebrations during which over 800 white carnations were passed out, unwittingly starting a floral trend. She would sadly die protesting the commercialization of the holiday, especially flower sales (ironically, the Florists Exchange anonymously paid for her care in her old age).

On May 9th, 1914 (also my birthday, and the same day in 1960 the FDA approved the Pill) President Woodrow Wilson officially declared through Congress the second Sunday of May to publically express our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.

Growing up with my birthday landing on Mother’s Day every few years, I’ve never been scolded for forgetting the day. I don’t mind sharing the two now at all, especially compared to when I was younger. The highlights of the first several double holidays that coincided for me as a mom secured no poopy diaper changes, a full day of moderately uninterrupted digging in the dirt, a nap and not having to do bedtime. Some of you may know first-hand the joy of these odd-sounding gifts, however you became a mother. I appreciate non-traditional thanks as well as some tradition mixed in.

Say it with Vegetable Flowers
Nationally we like to use flowers to show our mama appreciation.

While the Co-op will have many beautiful flowers to choose from, I would like to also suggest another flowering gift option: locally and organically grown herb and vegetable starts from Voss Organics and/or West Star Farms. A gift that, like a mom, keeps on growing and giving. This is the perfect time to put plants in the ground in Wisconsin!

Say it with a Card
In 2006, Americans spent approximately $682 million on greeting cards for Mother’s Day. It takes many moms to raise a child, though, and the industry could probably double their numbers if they also dedicated cards to foster moms, step moms, queer moms, neighbor moms, auntie moms, sister moms, or not-a-stereotypical-Mother cards. The lost art of sending a card to say thanks to the mom(s) who got us to where we are today can be a simple and thoughtful gesture. It took me years of spending hours searching for the perfectly written card to finally figure out the only way to find one is to write it yourself. When I was younger, and not a mom, I used to make cards (the Artterro bookmaking kits are great for this and locally mom-owned!). Now, I like to buy blank cards and write what is right. Even though it’s easy for me to do this now, working at the Co-op, it feels good that this doesn’t have to be a commercial gesture, as all but one small line of the cards sold here at the Co-op are locally made.

  • Hope for Women is the only non-locally made card for sale at the Co-op. These are the beautiful cards made out of pressed flowers by women in El Salvador and India. They look like something I daydream about making, and these women support themselves through this detailed craft.
  • Ellis, founder of Red Oak Cards, is not only quite a card creator but also a poet with three books.
  • Ann Doody, owner and artist for Art Prints now divides her time between Madison and Aspen as seen in her work of many watercolor native botanicals. She was also once the Co-op’s General Manager many moons ago.
  • Mary Fiore lives just a few blocks away from Willy East and some of the photos on her cards are taken that close, too.
  • Kathryn Nelson of KLN Galleries keeps alive her father’s artistic depictions of many historic and memorable Madison landmarks through these.
  • Some of you may be familiar with Tashai Lovington as one of the creators of Mad City Chickens but she also creates the many intricate Mandala photo art cards at East.
  • Tami Dettinger is Photos by Tami.
  • And last but not least of our local card producers is Dorith Stienber.

Remember that how you say thanks to a mom you know doesn’t have to be fancy or commercial, as long as they can hear it. You also don’t need to wait for a holiday to show it. It is definitely good to let any mama know on a regular basis how appreciated her efforts are, no matter who she is. And to my boys, in case you’re reading this, it’s never the wrong time to wash the dishes or make me a card.

Hempen Goods

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