May 10, 2018
At the heart of every good holiday is the spirit of gratitude. This is most obvious during the Thanksgiving holiday where the whole point is to be grateful to the One who provides for our needs, body and soul. This is also the case for the two biggest holidays in the Christian year: Christmas and Easter. And it’s also true for this weekend’s holiday, Mother’s Day.
At Christmas we give thanks to God for his incredible creativity in solving our sin problem by becoming one of us in the Incarnation and bridging the gap between heaven and earth. If you shrug off this divine mystery and fail to give God thanks during the Christmas season, I suggest that you haven’t celebrated Christmas at all. You might get gifts, you may give them too, but the heart of the Christmas holiday is thanking God for the gift of coming to be with us in the flesh.
We’re invited into a similar posture each year during Holy Week. On Good Friday, we give thanks for the love that led Jesus to offer himself as a willing sacrifice on the cross. On Easter Sunday we give thanks for the power of God that raised his sinless beloved from the ground.
I do always feel some sympathy for the Holy Spirit whose special holiday (Pentecost) is never celebrated with the same oomph! as Christmas and Easter. Some of us are inclined to give thanks that God incredibly dwells within us by his Spirit. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Pentecost in next week’s holiday. This weekend is about the moms.
In keeping with the big idea that at the heart of every good holiday is the spirit of gratitude, it follows that Mother’s day should simply be about saying thank you to our moms. If you can communicate a deep, heartfelt thanks to your mom (or granny, or aunt, or older sister or whatever woman kept you alive when you were at your littlest and most vulnerable), the day will be a smashing success. You have so many options at your disposal. You can use words. You can use a gift. You can simply spend some quality time together. You can write something clever or comical or tear-jerky. You can praise her or name her virtues in the company of others. You can draw or paint something lovely. You can plant some flowers. You can sing a song. The key question to ask is, “What will feel like thanks in my mom’s life?” Answer that. Then do it.
This is my first “Mother-less” Day. My mom passed from this life in January 2018. Her body is no longer here share a hug, a story, read a letter, or listen to my words. However, just because she isn’t physically here any longer doesn’t mean I can’t still be thankful. I am planning on doing a few things to stoke the embers of my gratitude to my mom so they stay burning bright and hot. I’m going to play a few songs on the piano that she especially loved and remember that she gave me the gift of music. I’m going to plant some geraniums in the flower boxes on our porch, something she did every year on Mother’s Day. I’m going to name some of her best qualities over dinner with my family and tell a few funny stories.
And, because my Mom’s proudest achievement was raising five kids, I’m gonna give a call to my siblings and let them know I love them and that they had an awesome mom, too. Honoring my mom’s pride and joy gives honor to her, I think.
I don’t why this idea has never occurred to me before! Sibling rivalry is powerful force. Honoring my mom’s other kids honors her. Perhaps it’s no accident that God’s #1 commandment is to love God and #2 is to love all God’s children.
Happy Mother’s Day to all whose love and sacrifice for kids makes the world go ‘round.