One supposes it is unfair to blame Ms. Jarvis for the commercial orgy that Mother’s Day has become. She did, after all, renounce the holiday she helped create, announcing that “commercialism was destroying Mother’s Day.”
Still, one can not help but wonder how wonderfully uneventful Sundays in May might pass had Ms Jarvis managed to put on her big girl panties and internalize the grief over her mother’s death. 1
the nitwit Ms. Jarvis started a viral campaign to honor the “purity of a mother’s love.” Richer nitwits 2 threw their weight, prestige and money behind her efforts. And despite some opposition in Congress the holiday was eventually immortalized in 1914.
Which caused the floral industry to bloom. 3
However the holiday soon became what it is today, a mandatory spend-fest. This actually pissed off Ms. Jarvis, who wanted Mother’s Day “to be a day of sentiment, not profit.” In 1920 Ms. Jarvis told people to stop buying flowers and other gifts for their mothers, and she turned against her former (floral) commercial supporters. She referred to the florists, greeting card manufacturers and the confectionery industry as “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.” 4
Of course it went downhill from there; Ms. Jarvis was once dragged screaming out of a meeting of the American War Mothers by police and arrested for disturbing the peace in her attempts to stop the sale of Mother’s Day carnations. One of the last times anyone ever spotted Ms. Jarvis in public she was going door-to-door in Philly, asking for signatures on a petition to rescind Mother’s Day.
In her dotage she became a recluse and a hoarder. 5
- Reputedly a saint of a woman…but in retrospect, what mother wasn’t? ↩
- John Wanamaker and H.J. Heinz. ↩
- Ms. Jarvis had this thing for carnations, her dear departed mum’s favorite and best flower. ↩
- Okay, that last bit? The “one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations”? That may be a bit of hyperbole. However the “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites” characterization? There Ms. Jarvis was decades ahead of her time. ↩
- All of which could have been avoided, as well as this damnable ‘holiday’, had Ms. Jarvis simply kept her mouth shut and instead instructed her florist to place a dozen carnations upon her her late mother’s grave in perpetuity. But nooooooooooooooooo… ↩