Popular culture has long dictated not only which holidays should be considered “official,” but also how we should spend our time and money on each given holiday.
Why doesn’t anyone buy a tree for Mother’s Day, as an example? I love the smell of fresh pine all year round, so having a random tree cut down from a forest sitting in the middle of my living room at the end of May seems to make just as much sense as said random tree adorning my home at the end of December, right?
Why is there no man who dresses up in a costume and brings me treats on Mother’s Day? Seems to work for the kids at Easter… I can’t say that I would necessarily be opposed to a man hopping onto my doorstep with a basket of goodies in hand (depending on the man, the costume and the goodies, of course… )
But those aren’t accepted societal “norms” for Mother’s Day. Instead, we get whatever the Kay Jewelry commercial thinks we want, a cheap knockoff version of what Kanye is getting Kim or whatever the first woman you ran into at Macy’s (who personally knows me so well) posits I might like (did she really think the Marge Simpson-style red pearls were cute?).
Let me let you in on a little secret: I don’t want any of that for Mother’s Day.
Of course, popular media is well-intentioned when it comes to wanting you to spend another $21 billion for Mother’s Day (including $671 million in cards alone), but they just don’t quite understand me very well.
If you really want to know what I want for Mother’s Day, you should start by dismantling everything you see in a magazine, a commercial, a song, the FTD catalog, a television/Netflix show or on the Simpsons. And instead of thinking about the perfect gift for you to share on Facebook, think about the perfect gift to give to a frugal, sleep-deprived, practical mom who loves to be pampered but hates wasting money.
Popular media says: Every gift begins with Kay. Buy her diamond earrings that will last forever.
I say: Who’s Kay? Every gift should begin with the recipient, and in this case, the recipient is me. If you know me at all, you know that I only have two pairs of earrings left out of the five pairs I bought last year because one inevitably slips out of my ear. So the $1,000 diamond earrings you buy me won’t last forever… they’ll actually last a month, if I’m lucky. And our bank account will be $1,000 lighter. Nix the earring idea.
Popular media says: Give her the gift of flowers this Mother’s Day.
I say: Even if I’m diligent about changing the water (which I’m not), the flowers you got me last time only lasted a week. I happen to think Mother’s Day should last a month… or two months, even. How about you and the kids band together like Robin Hood’s Merry Men, clean out the weeds in the backyard and plant new flowers? Then, if I want fresh cut flowers, I can just go cut them myself. A $20 investment that will last six months vs. a $60 investment that will last a week. Score.
Popular media says: Chocolate is the key to a woman’s heart.
I say: You’ve got that right. But the number of pounds that I will have to work off after eating that two-pound box of chocolate is pretty clear: it’s two. That equates to about 23.3 hours on a treadmill just to burn off the chocolate (not to mention the extra baby weight that the baby didn’t take with him). In the timeless words of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Instead, how about you buy me this 3.2-ounce Chocolove dark chocolate bar? I won’t have to work off the calories, I can convince myself that dark chocolate is good for me and (bonus!) it only costs $3 at vitacost.com.
Popular media says: Turn out the lights and light a candle (for the old school among you, this is a classic Teddy Pendergrass lyric.)
I say: Bingo. There is nothing more that I would love for Mother’s Day than for everyone to turn out the lights around the house all day long. If you want to do a candlelight dinner, I’m all in. That should definitely save us another couple of bucks before the day is done.
Popular media says: Take her to get a massage!
I say: Bring the massage to me. My 9-year-old daughter can brush my hair. My 5-year-old son can massage my feet. And the intimacy and closeness that we will share during that 10-minute spa treatment is MasterCard priceless. Granted, I end up a little light on the time that I would get if I actually went to the spa, but at least I don’t end up light on our collective household pocketbook. And since Mother’s Day will last for two months, I should be able to get one 10-minute massage each week, which will more than make up for the lost time.
Popular media says: Mom shouldn’t have to cook on Mother’s Day! Treat her to brunch!
I say: You’re halfway there (actually only a third of the way, but mothers are supposed to be ever-supportive, so I’ll give you extra credit).
You’re right. Mothers shouldn’t have to cook on Mother’s Day. But they also shouldn’t have to wait in line for an hour at a crowded restaurant while their knockoff orange-bottom shoes (because Kanye bought Kim the $1,100 Christian Louboutin red-bottom version) wreak long-term emotional damage on their feet.
So you can feel free to ditch the Louboutin knockoffs and cook brunch for me at home. And dinner too. Because the worst part about Mother’s Day is that it’s usually more like Mother’s Half-Day. The second half of the day somehow starts to feel like we pushed Sunday afternoon into Monday, and the routine is back to Mayhem for Mom rather than Mollycoddling for Mom.
The lesson in all of this: Don’t let popular media, or me, for that matter, dictate what you give the special mother in your life for Mother’s Day. As a wise man (fine, it was a New York therapist) once told me, “True love is when you love someone the way that they need to be loved, not the way that you want to love them.”
Try loving her the way that she needs to be loved this Sunday (and for the next two months of Mother’s Days), and watch how it brings a smile to her full-from-two-meals, freshly-massaged, financially peaceful face. Oh, and don’t forget to consider that idea about a man hopping onto her doorstep in a special outfit with a basket of goodies. Only if that would make her happy, of course.