I’m making Belgian waffles for my mother this morning.
The usual gifts given today? My practical, simple, sweet mom always disavows them with sentiment-killing inquiries about how much they cost or how much sugar is in them. It doesn’t matter who else is around to hear this. It will happen. So after many attempts at the traditional presentations on the second Sunday in May, I’ve gone rogue.
The idea was my longtime friend Caroline’s. She even supplied the waffle maker, which I gave her for her birthday (Christmas? Mother’s Day? Um, oh, well) some years back.
“Vermont syrup,” recommended Caroline, herself the mother of two. I was also told to serve fresh fruit (“in little crystal bowls”) and real whipped cream.
And orange juice that had better not be from concentrate, she said.
All the things my mother never buys, because they’re too expensive, or, in the case of the syrup, because it isn’t sugar-free.
Who am I to quibble? Mom’s in darn good health. She works out three days a week in addition to chasing my two young nephews around on frequent visits to Grandma’s. I won’t tell you how old she is, but let’s just say those activities are remarkable for many people 20 years younger.
So inexpensive and healthy are the words that should, er, must describe gifts to her. And while Belgian waffles qualify in the first category, they don’t exactly qualify in the second.
Even so, Mom’s giving me a pass, I think, because the mixing and pouring of batter together will enable the two of us to spend some quality time.
“Just like it was the day you were born,” she would say, as she always tells the tale of my original birthday the same.
“It was just you and me, Mark, nobody else.”
And that, and I’m sorry to break this to Hallmark and FTD, is the essence of today.
I know that Mother’s Day, like Valentine’s Day and some other holidays, long ago were co-opted by the retail people. Their primary mission is to make money by catering to our hastily arrived-at conclusions that we need to find something to show a loved one how we feel, and fast.
A career in journalism leads one to such deductions. The famous motto of Chicago’s old City News Service was that accuracy was supreme, and that if your mother told you that she loved you, “check it out.”
I’ve been checking out my mother’s love for me my entire life. And her claim is accurate.
I’ve learned to forgive Hallmark, and FTD, and Whitman’s and See’s and all the rest. They provide a valued service, without which far too many of us would go from one year to the next and to even the next without making a proper and deserved fuss over the people we love.
The retailers make it convenient to say those tender things our loved ones deserve to hear, and on behalf of far too many people, I thank them.
But I am grateful to not be far too many people.
Since my birthday always falls just days before Mother’s Day, as I’m blowing out candles I get a free annual reminder that as I was born, someone bore me. And raised me.
And, bless her, is still there for me.
So this morning I am absolutely certain that she will say one Belgian waffle will be fine, but I will insist that she have two.
Caroline doesn’t need her waffle maker today. Her children are taking her out to brunch. I know what she’s going to eat.
Read Mark J. Scarp’s opinions here on Sundays. Watch his video commentaries at eastvalleytribune.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.