It should be explained at the outset that Thad and I don't usually make too much of a fuss over what often get called "Hallmark (tm) Holidays." Sure, we both appreciate having our vocations as mother or as father acknowledged on one Sunday each year, and we usually send a little gift to our own parents on these days, as well as planning a phone call--since we don't live near our parents, this is the best we can do for now. But neither Mother's Day nor Father's Day are holidays we generally celebrate lavishly.
In fact, years ago when the girls were little, I decided that it was an act of utter lunacy to attempt to eat out on Mother's Day. There is nothing fun about spending an hour or two in line at a restaurant with three small wiggly girls, and the crowds usually meant indifferent service and a long wait for food which would usually be chilly or congealing by the time it actually arrived at the table. If I wanted that, I could do it myself at home, I thought--and so we started bringing home fried chicken or pizza on Mother's Day--or sometimes Thad would cook--and just enjoying a relaxing Sunday, instead.
This year our parish followed a very nice custom: white carnations for all the moms at Mass, followed by a pancake breakfast which was the gift of the Men's Club to all the moms and their families. It was lovely to enjoy "brunch out" without the whole "waiting in line for hours amid throngs of people" part first--I think that more parishes should adopt this custom.
Of course, by the time Mass was over and we settled down to enjoy our coffee, pancakes and eggs, and sausage (for those who can eat that--I can't, and haven't been able to for years, but it smelled wonderful anyway) I'd already had the astonishing surprise and wonder and joy of Thad's gifts to me for Mother's Day; but I wanted to start by explaining how low-key our Mother's Day celebrations usually are.
When the girls were little, they would make me cards or draw a picture on the card Thad bought for me. Gifts were more or less optional. "When the girls are older," I would say, "you can take them out to pick out a little something, if you like. But it's not really necessary." I'm like most women; I don't mind getting a sweet little package with a bow on top, but when it comes to Mother's Day I didn't want to create some kind of "gift-giving anxiety" about the whole thing. A token of appreciation was nice, but whether it was a dinner I didn't have to cook or some carnations on the table or something that came in a package was entirely up to Thad and the girls.
And when the girls got older, they did want to shop for Mom. One year they conspired at a store and came home proudly with a cute little "Best Mom" pin that I will keep forever; another year, having heard me talk about replacing some worn out slipper socks, they bought three soft pairs--one from each--in pastel colors. In recent years they've started to listen to what I say I might need, so this year I mentioned that I needed some new measuring spoons for the kitchen. They reported back to daddy--but daddy picked up a nice set when we were out shopping one day, a few weeks before Mother's Day. I might have suspected something then, but I was clueless.
I might also have suspected something when Thad mentioned casually that he wanted to "pick something up" for me one night after work; all I suspected was that the girls had come up with an alternative to measuring spoons. How else could I account for Thad's total calm? He usually places too great of a burden on himself on occasions like Christmas or my birthday, when no amount of insisting that what I'd really like is some more of that vanilla-scented moisturizing lotion will stop him from some anxious last-minute shopping. That spirit of "needing to shop" was completely absent, and I wasn't even the least bit suspicious that Something Was Up.
I should have been suspicious when he showed the girls what he'd bought, especially since he waited until they'd already been put in bed Saturday night to bring the items in to show them. I might have seen in this an attempt to keep them from accidentally cluing me in that Something Was Up, but again, I had no idea.
And then Sunday morning before we left for Mass he called the girls in and gave me two small packages, and sat back to watch me open them.
The first was a tricolor gold Our Lady of Guadalupe necklace.
I stared at it in bemused astonishment while my husband explained that he'd seen the necklace around Christmas time and had liked it, but it had been too far beyond our budget. So he'd watched, and waited. He'd seen it marked down, moved to the clearance counter, and then, with Mother's Day approaching, he'd seen an extra reduction taken. And he'd bought it, as he'd been hoping to do for months, to give to me.
To say that I was surprised would be an understatement to end all understatements. I was bowled over, astounded, and amazed. All that thought, all that planning, and this absolutely beautiful gift! No woman needs to be told how wonderful that is.
I was so taken with the necklace that the girls had to remind me that there was another package. They were grinning a bit, so I thought that maybe this package held the measuring spoons--after all, the necklace was more than enough.
But the second gift was an iPod shuffle for me to put my exercise music on, so I won't have to balance an old portable CD player on my lap while I ride my stationary bicycle. If I'd been astounded before, now I was well and truly gobsmacked, flabbergasted, and dumbfounded. For a second or two I couldn't even find words. Either one of these gifts would have been far, far more than I would ever have expected; together, they were beyond belief. The love, care, and attention that went into the planning and purchasing of these gifts for me really took my breath away; and I was reminded one more time that this amazing and wonderful husband of mine is always capable of surprising me with his great and generous love.
All that, and he cooked dinner, too. :-)