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American Mothers, a Philadelphia lady named Anna Jarvis reasoned some years back, are over-worked and underpaid. They should be recognized, rewarded on one day a year. She took her idea to the florist around the corner, who forwarded it to the national association of florists, candy merchants, and bed jacket vendors in executive session in New York City. Mother's Day, an American Institution, was born. A public which proved to be the greatest market in the world for "cards for all occasions," embroidered pillow-slips, and cut-rate telegraph plaudits has taken Mother's Day to its soft, fatuous heart.
You couldn't pull off a deal like that in any other country. Americans are uniquely prone to isolate emotion from life, and so cut off it inevitably turns to cheap sentimentality. The treatment of mothers is one indication of the general American attitude towards women; the plight of the wife ("the little woman") is well known enough and horrible. And so far she is Day-less. As for mothers, their main trouble is usually that they have too much to do in the early years and not enough later on. The plight of the American woman whose children are out from under--at Harvard, say--is truly alarming. Lost, she turns up at the local women's club, gardening, or ladies' aid, and thinks of what her children were like a few years ago. And then, on the Second Sunday of May, comes Her Day, and with it a box of chocolate brandy delights. Ah, mother love!
Like the charmed rats of Hamelin, Americans scamper to follow the compelling advertisement, convinced that it would be disloyal and remiss not to "remember mother," assured that one remembers her best with cash, once a year. The business index will rise perceptibly, the sweet smell of roses and caramels will steep the land, but on Monday mother will be back at the washtub or Garden Club, bored, neglected and tired. --from the May 9, 1947, CRIMSON
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