by Bonnie Stichart
Are you bothered by the commercialization of Mother’s Day? If so, you’re not alone. Anna Jarvis, the “mother” of Mother’s Day, was unhappy with how quickly the focus changed from a day at home, where the family honored Mother, to an all-out effort by merchants to sell products – with the suggestion that if you don’t buy their brand you don’t really love your mother.
Just a few years after the holiday was established, Anna was calling those who made money from preprinted cards, chocolates, flowers, and other gifts “commercial racketeers.” Anna did not placidly accept this change; she fought back. She wrote letters, she advocated boycotts; once, her protest led to her arrest for disturbing the peace. I think she’d be horrified at how even more commercialized the day to honor mothers has become.
Anna was a DIY person long before the acronym was used. For her, Mother’s Day was for mothers, not commercial activity. In her letter to President Wilson thanking him for making Mother’s Day a national holiday, she wrote of her hopes that it would be a “great Home Day of our country for sons and daughters to honor their mothers and fathers and homes in a way that will perpetuate family ties and give emphasis to true home life.”
How do we take back the day? By looking into our hearts and communicating what we find to our families. For some, it might be a family outing, even a picnic if the weather cooperates. For others, a quiet day at home. Or even a not-so-quiet day – young children can be noisy!
I’ve always enjoyed handmade cards from my children; especially those with adorably misspelled words and backward letters. Even though they are adults now, I still prefer the homemade to store-bought. Flowers of any kind, even dandelions, if they are picked by loving little hands, make sweeter bouquets than expensive blooms from a florist.
Food is a significant part of festivities, but there is no need to buy special food. Americans are beginning to distance themselves from sweets, so candy and pastries as gifts are no longer safe bets. Homemade food has the advantage of no hidden sugars or strange, unpronounceable ingredients.
Those who know me are probably expecting recipes at this point, and I won’t disappoint them. The first recipe is for a make-ahead dessert that goes well with coffee and has the advantage of staying fresh for a week or more. For those with more of a sweet tooth, serve with ice cream.
makes about 24
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted*
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl combine all dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine eggs and extracts and whisk together. Stir into the dry ingredients. Add almonds. Divide dough into halves or thirds and shape into logs. Transfer logs to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly greased. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm and lightly browned. Cool on a rack for at least 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut logs on the diagonal into ¾ inch slices. Return to baking sheet, cut side down, leaving a space around each. Continue baking for 15 minutes or until desired crispness. Cool completely on rack.
*To toast the almonds, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Next is a light side dish that can’t make up its mind if it’s a soufflé or a quiche. I call it a soufflé; if it goes flat, it’s a quiche. Either way, it tastes good. It’s a little fussy as it is a last minute dish, but it’s surprisingly easy to make. If you want more loft to the soufflé, add one or two more eggs. You can also add herbs or spices if you want a little more tingle to your taste buds.
makes 4-6 servings
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 ounces salad shrimp or crab meat
1 cup grated Swiss or other cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch quiche pan, a 9-inch pie pan, or a casserole with butter or cooking spray.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan or casserole.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers – past, present, and future!
Bonnie Stichart does her writing and cooking in Colville, WA. She still has the Mother’s Day cards her children made for her!