A day for resolve to keep thinking of our mothers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 May, 2005, 12:00am

The true meaning of Mother's Day is easy to grasp. It is a day when there is really no excuse for failing to express love, affection and thanks to a person who holds a unique place in our lives.

This will be done by millions around the world today, including grateful children in Hong Kong. And so it should.

But fears are expressed every year that this message is being lost, as the commercial world relentlessly exploits the festival for financial gain.

Certainly, there are times when it seems as though Mother's Day has become a new economic indicator.

The extent to which shops and restaurants will benefit from the occasion is anxiously debated. Restaurants and florists in Hong Kong are, for example, predicting an improvement on last year's business.

A dazzling selection of special promotions tempted dutiful sons and daughters to dip deep into their pockets. We now have more ways than ever to show our mother that we care - so long as we have a credit card handy.

This tends to create a perception that all that has to be done to pay tribute to our mother on this day is to buy her a bunch of flowers or an expensive present. For some, this is perhaps all there is to it. But most will not see their spending spree in quite such a cynical light. The meals out and the gifts are all part of making their mother feel what she is - special. In this way, they are entirely on message.

The concerns about the commercialisation of Mother's Day are not new. Hong Kong's celebration is based on the one which gained official recognition in the United States almost a century ago.

Schoolteacher Anna Jarvis fought a campaign for a special day for mothers - it had been the wish of her own mum. She succeeded in 1914 when Mother's Day was approved by the US president.

Jarvis eloquently described the purpose of the day to be: 'To revive the dormant filial love and gratitude we owe to those who gave us birth.'

She spent the latter days of her life fighting against the commercialisation of the special day she had created. It was destined to be a losing battle. She would probably not approve of the extravagant manner in which many people now celebrate Mother's Day.

But her purpose can still be served, no matter how many bunches of flowers, presents, and meals out a mother is bought. What matters is that the day reminds us how special our mothers are - and encourages us to let them know it.

The creator of Mother's Day herself said the message could be conveyed in different ways, including words, gifts or acts. But the celebration should prompt a resolution not to forget our mums in the year which will pass before the next Mother's Day.

So long as this is done, it will be in keeping with tradition - regardless of how much it costs.