17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Those Darn Mother's Day Carnations

I realize it is the thought that counts and blah blah blah...and I am totally not that into Mother's Day, as you will see in my comment from Carrie's Best Week, I mean, Mother's Day Ever, but there is an area of improvement that I am interested in. My DH is in charge of the M's Day Gift in Sacrament Meeting. (I also think this is a bizarre tradition, but whatever.) The past few years he has gotten carnations for all the women in the ward...whether they are technically mothers or not. I hate this. Aside from the fact that I am allergic to flowers and always decline the gift, I think: Ok great, for the next 3 hours these women have to carry around this dumb (come on Carnations are sort of a dumb flower) flower and prevent it from being dried out, stepped on, broken in half or lost. Women always have too much to carry anyway, let's not make them take care of a delicate flower for all of church, then expect to get it home on the subway and to sit alone in a little glass of water.

I further resented this when my DH asked me (granted he is WAY stressed out right now, we won't mention the fact that I was in the ER last night), to take care of the carnations for Sunday. I expressed the above paragraph and he told me that I could get 50 whatevers for around 50 bucks for the sisters in the ward. Here is where you come in. I would love ideas. For me, the ideal is to go to Costco and buy 50 bucks worth of full-size candy bars and wrap as many as is a dollars worth (let's say 2 or 3), in a ribbon and hand them out. And if you like the flowers...please tell me WHY?

PS I know it's not really my turn right now, but this is time sensitive, I will save the bed bugs, spraining my back, and ER visit that also happened yesterday, for another time.


  • I fully agree with you on the carnations. I've also seen a little potted geranium. Also, UGGH! Could there be any two less beautiful flowers?

    The best ward mother's day gift I ever received was Lindt chocolate. It was one of those candy bar type sizes, but it was Lindt Lindor chocolate, the truffle kind. So good! If you're going the chocolate route, just buy one, but some really nice chocolate. Or a few Lindt truffles (the round kind).

    I would also really appreciate a thought/quotation to go with it. Something meaty to chew on. Nothing putting mothers on a pedestal.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 5/10/2006 05:23:00 AM  

  • Another thing I've seen that is really cool is giving the money to a women's shelter. The problem with that one was it wasn't announced and explained well, so everyone just felt gypped. If I were to go that route, I would give everyone a description of the women's shelter where the money went. And this way, there is no worries about allergies, dislikes, etc.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 5/10/2006 05:34:00 AM  

  • We do boxes of individual pieces of See's candy. Good gift.
    posted by Blogger Mabel Maybe at 5/10/2006 06:08:00 AM  

  • I wonder if the new Target brand CHOXIE woud have anything small, inexpensive and presentational....? I might have to take a little trip out there today. Every woman should go to Target after a trauma.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/10/2006 06:22:00 AM  

  • I am not totally comfortable with the sacrament handout of mother's day stuff. Even though I am now a mom, it took us years to get here and I still feel uncomfortable for those who don't have kids who don't want to be forced to stand up and "acknowledged." But that's just me.

    Anyway, in the ward I grew up in in Oregon, they often had the women stand up to be recognized, but then didn't hand out anything right then. At the end of church, there would be tables set up by the doors leading to the parking lot with whatever they were handing out - usually a potted plant. I thought that was smart.

    We lived in the Monterey California ward for a few years and they did the biggest Mother's day stuff I've ever seen at church. For the handouts, one year we got orchids in cool ceramic pots. They also did a lovely brunch for the women of the ward during the rest of church that included a speaker and the best food ever. I've never seen a ward do so much for the women, though I imagine was WAY more than the $50 limit you mentioned, that ward must have had a huge budget!

    I love the idea of getting the women chocolate. Most people would appreciate that way more than stinky carnations!
    posted by Anonymous Mary at 5/10/2006 06:22:00 AM  

  • I agree with your statement that whatever it is you get, make sure you give it to them at the END of church. Or get the YM/YW to pass the stuff out during the last 10 minutes (going to the Primary, RS, nursery, etc) of Church.

    Our ward does nothing. They go on and on in all classes about how great moms are, but I honestly appreciate that they don't ostracize the dozens of women in our ward that either can't conceive or are not married.

    Hmmm...go with the chocolate. :)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 5/10/2006 06:34:00 AM  

  • I could care less about this stuff, so I probably shouldn't comment, but I don't think candy or chocolate is a good idea, being diabetic. I'll bet there's at least one diabetic in each of your wards.

    In our ward last year, a woman made these for everyone:


    They were cute, but she put a TON of work into them.
    posted by Anonymous Susan M at 5/10/2006 06:59:00 AM  

  • I remember one mother's day I actually started tearing up over the whole carnation thing because I realized how much I wanted to be a mom, so I think its nice that your ward thinks of everyone.

    My Target has cute little terra cotta pots w/seed and soil ready to grow in the dollar bins.
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 5/10/2006 07:13:00 AM  

  • I don't like the carnations. Sort of seems like a waste. Even if you manage to get it home in one piece, what do you do with one carnation?

    I'm not a fan of the chocolate route because I am one of those crazy people out there that don't like chocolate. DH would end up eating it. But I think chocolate is better than the flower. At least someone is getting some use out of it.

    I really like the idea of donating the money to a women's shelter. Maybe each woman could get a little notecard with a quote and some info about where the money was donated in their honor.

    Sucks that this has fallen on your lap. If it were me, I would just pass on my ideas and make one of the men figure it out.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/10/2006 07:51:00 AM  

  • No to the flower idea. Banish it forever.

    I like Michelle's idea of a piece of chocolate with a quote - something universal about how all women are mothers so that women without children wont' feel left out.

    I think that Target has good choco's - the Choxie's are good - we used them as part of Christmas gifts this past year.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 5/10/2006 08:20:00 AM  

  • Kage,
    Where is the Target in NYC? I guesss I think of it as a suburbs store!!=)

    But I LOVE Lindt! I'd be WAY happy with that.

    And maybe some people think this is stupid but I heard some quote the other day about how all women can fulfill the role of Mother whether married or not, able to bear children or not..it was by some general authority. But I found it to be really beautiful by defining the term "Mother" in a higher way that really more described the giving nature and goodness of women.(In an ideal sense) It was sweet I thought! (But your hearing from an idealist!)

    CARNATIONS ARE WRONG! Just my 2 cents! =)
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 5/10/2006 08:45:00 AM  

  • I actually feel really uncomfortable with the whole public mothers day at church. mostly cause i know (especially here) we have a lot of women that arent mothers, and as much as you can rationalize it and consider them mothers (as i do) they always have the comeback that they dont have children, therefore are not in the realm of a mother.

    ok. that said. i dont really mind the flower but yes, it usually gets thrown in the trash when and if it make it home. which is a waste of time and money for the person getting it set up.
    Chocolate is a good idea, however the health side of me says, i dont need another thing to make my mormon butt look bigger.
    I think a nice quotation or something like that is good, but since you have to get this by sunday (without a lot of stress) i would say scratch it all. chocolate would be great and then maybe then we can discuss shifting the responsibility to someone else next year cause basically i think our EQ has ENOUGH to do in his calling without adding this. And also cause as we all know when you are the wife of well, any man with a calling, you really do end up pulling a lot of the weight....but thats another post altogether.

    good luck with it all. and just so you know...i wont be there so you can have my chocolate and eat it too.
    posted by Blogger ksl at 5/10/2006 08:52:00 AM  

  • *Carnations? Because LDS-ers are cheep and so are carnations.

    *I love flowers in general--so I always like getting a flower. Even a single carnation (though, no, it's not the most sophisticated or beautiful). It's probably a generalization (obviously with many exceptions) that all women love flowers.

    *I think it was really crappy for dh to give you that job. It's mother's day for crying out loud! When the fathers are supposed to give the mothers a break! I know it's probably too late, but dh should definitely have given the job to a man, and should even do so now if he has the guts.

    *I love chocolates, cookies, watever. I defintely get jealous when wards give men cookies/cinnamon rolls on father's day. I'd totally go for sweets.

    *Am I heartless? I think having every woman stand up for Mother's day is silly. Why not just the mothers? I just think that before I was a mom I never cared ONE BIT about being celebrated. I felt kind of like a dork standing up. Of course, I was never unable to have kids, etc., so I was never offended or sad at this time. I suppose if that were my situation, my opinion could be drastically different. Newmom, how do/did you feel about being recognized?

    *Putting mothers on a pedestal is something my mom has always hated about mother's day. She knew she wasn't that good (who is?) and always felt guilty.

    *I think the BEST thing men can give women on mother's day is to thank her by giving her a break from her responsibilites. If my dh gets the kids dressed, lets me take a nap after church, and makes dinner, I'm a happy woman!! Bliss! Forget the other store-bought gifts! I wonder how this can be translated in church--some wards have YW/YM teach primary so ladies have a break and can go to RS meetings. Don't know other possibilities...none would work for you this year though. No time.

    *With alergies, diabetes, and preferences there's no chance of pleasing everyone. For you it's just to get by without pulling your hair out. Get something small and simple you can huck in a box and drag to church--low stress. If you need help, call me for sure!!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 5/10/2006 10:15:00 AM  

  • Katie, about not having all the women stand up in sacrament meeting - as I previously said, I'm not comfortable with it, even after finally having a baby. BUT, in times past, I was able to choose not to stand or to stand depending on how I was feeling that Mother's Day. We visited a ward in Sao Paulo on Mother's day a few years ago and they asked the "Women who have children" to stand. We were staying with an older (in her 60's) single woman who never married and she just sat and cried the whole time. It was heartbreaking. It is tricky to know how to best acknowledge the women.
    posted by Anonymous Mary at 5/10/2006 10:29:00 AM  

  • If you're gonna hand our carnations, make sure whatever quote you decide on is just printed on a Post-It note!
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 5/10/2006 10:50:00 AM  

  • Carnations - definitely a cheap, kinda lame flower... you have to feel sorry for them, really. I agree with ksl on the chocolate thing. I would appreciate the sentiment, but I really don't need candy when I try to be health conscious (and I think the majority of women do try to be). But I also agree that you're never gonna please everyone. I like the idea of a donation of some sorts. Or a quotation attached to a small candle in some pretty way. Or even at the end of RS you could have some refreshments or a small brunch. But like everyone else says... I would either pass this on to an EQ member, or expect a BIG REWARD come Mother's Day from your DH. Good Luck.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 5/10/2006 10:50:00 AM  

  • Ok. I am back from Target...and Rachel H there is one in College Point which is just 10 to 15 minutes away door to door for me. Remember, I am in Queens so I just jump on the BQE to get a taste of the pseudo-suburbs. There is also one in Brooklyn and Queens as well, it's just easier to get to College Point.

    I got the little flower in the pot kits for a dollar...thank you cc....I never would have ventured over there....unless you had said something. So after calling Carrie we decided 25 of those on ONE side of the basket, and 25 (or more) lindt truffle packs. A pack of 12 was 3 for a dollar so I got 14 for 25 bucks. So that was my budget of 50 bucks. I think I did good. Now I am considering a quote...but (brace yourself) it is by our favorite gal Martha Beck...here it is:

    EXPECTING ADAM by Martha Beck

    Found on p. 60: “…the word mother is more powerful when it is used as a verb than as a noun. Mothering has little to do with biological reproduction-as another friend once told me, there are women who bear and raise children without ever mothering them, and there are people (both male and female) who mother all their lives without ever giving birth. The bad news is that not all of us have the good fortune to be born to our real mothers, or to stay with them as long as we need them. The good news is that, while mothers are often in short supply, mothering is not. Against all odds, despite everything that works against it on this unpleasant, uncomfortable planet, mothering is here in abundance. You can always find it, if you’re smart and know where to look.”

    So....now help me with this. Michelle, does it meet your meaty standards? Everyone else...is it bad that it is not only be a General Authority, but by an apostate mormon?

    And don't worry now that I am in charge, there will be no standing and saluting...just an usher with a basket full of goodies for anyone to partake...and ksl I TOTALLY plan on eating your chocolate.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/10/2006 10:52:00 AM  

  • Sorry correction Lindts were on sale for 3 for 5 dollars, or 1.66 for 12.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/10/2006 10:53:00 AM  

  • Here's the problem with handing out chocolate in Sacrament Meeting. You can't hide it from the kids, and the younger ones who can't understand that it's not for them dive for it. One year we all got chocolate roses (very sweet, yes), but the minute my 2and a half year saw that it was food, he grabbed it out of my hand and had it cracked it half and nearly opened before I could blink. Some gift.

    Maybe if it was wrapped it would be easier, but kids are still pretty savvy when it comes to candy. They're like dogs that way--they can smell it even when it's in your purse! If you ARE going to go that route, my vote would be the small Lindt truffles. Easier to hide, and taste great.

    I like the flowers, but that's just me.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 5/10/2006 10:56:00 AM  

  • Right up until you attach the quote you can continue to pretend that the gift originated in the EQ. As soon as you add the thoughtfully selected meaningful quote, the charade is over. :)
    posted by Anonymous Andy at 5/10/2006 11:08:00 AM  

  • Andy, hilarious...I was thinking that the quote was a DEAD give away. And in Andy and DH's defense...I have always appreciated the THOUGHT.

    And Katie be nice to my DH right now he is 5 men down at work and dealing with a crazy woman (uh...me) at home. I asked him how I could help out and this has been a good opportunity to REVISE the M's Day thing
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/10/2006 11:15:00 AM  

  • I like the quote a lot. It's definitely the inclusive model of motherhood (similar to Sheri Dew's talk a few years ago) so no one is left out. It implies that mothering is a choice--which is an idea with some grist to chew on and one that is good for me to consider. I don't have a problem with Martha Beck, and I don't think that most in the ward would (probably a lot have never heard of her.) You could just put the attribution in a small font at the bottom if you're concerned. I don't want to sound apostate, but I really dislike a lot of things I've heard from the pulpit about mothers.

    So, in thinking about "all women can mother" and the concern with inclusion, do we worry about this with fathers? Should we?
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 5/10/2006 11:16:00 AM  

  • As the mother of a daughter who,(because of her medical condition,)will never biologically produce her own children, I definitely think all women should be included in mother's day activities. Some don't mother by choice, but MANY MANY do not have a choice and wish they could. I have always appreciated the little pamphlet sized books put out by the church- they are around a buck a piece and I always read them and keep them for sometime when I need a little "lifter upper!" I saw the one for this year and it looked pretty good. I like your ideas though Kage and I am sure the chocolates will be a hit! Happy mother's day to all!
    posted by Blogger BJHBHB at 5/10/2006 11:37:00 AM  

  • I like the Martha Beck quote. I'd be silently amused by the fact that it's from an apostate and wonder how many of the sweet widows in my ward remember that, too.
    posted by Blogger a. nonny spouse at 5/10/2006 02:34:00 PM  

  • I recently pulled this quote out of Utne:

    "The essence of motherhood is not restricted to women who have given birth; it is a principle inherent in both women and men. It is an attitude of the mind. It is love--and that love is the very breath of life. No one would say, 'I will breathe only when I am with my family and friends; I won't breathe in front of my enemies.' Similarly, for those in whom motherhood has awakened, love and compassion for everyone are as much part of their being as breathing."
    --Amma Chi, also known as Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, is a spiritual leader and humanitarian who travels the world offering hugs to millions of spiritual seekers. This quote is from a speech given at the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, Ocotber 7, 2002.
    posted by Anonymous Idahospud at 5/10/2006 08:28:00 PM  

  • I would be fine with a carnation, or a couple of truffles, or whatever anyone gives me. When it comes to gifts, I'm not fussy.

    That said, this is the first Mother's Day that I'm actually slightly mother-y (pregnant with our first). In years past, I've hated Mother's Day, and I've especially hated those all-inclusive 'every woman is a mother' sort of quotes because I didn't want pity. But I was so angry at being single and childless that there is pretty much nothing anyone could have said that would have made me feel better about the whole thing. I spared everyone the pain and just skipped Church on Mother's Day.

    What you've already got sounds great. If anyone complains, tell them they can give it back and go without. It's a gift, for Pete's sake. Say thanks and be gracious about it.
    posted by Blogger Melinda at 5/10/2006 09:05:00 PM  

  • I've always thought that a nice pen would be a great thing to pass out on mother's day. *Everyone* can use a nice pen. The Uniball Vision ink pens, or the Rollerball gel pens are only about a dollar each. And you can buy in bulk from office supply stores. It's not candy so kids won't steal it and it won't ruin a healthy diet or anything. It's also not a lame flower that'll be dead the next day, if it even makes it home alive. Also a good pen for the checkbook or something like that is one of those little nice things that mothers don't often take for themselves.
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 5/10/2006 10:18:00 PM  

  • Ok, Kage, I'll ease up on DH. If you volunteered that's different (than having it dumped on you) and it was very nice of you. Asking a guy could have still been an option of him getting help. Anyway, I think what you've done is awesome. I hope you are feeling better and the both of you have less stress soon! :)
    posted by Blogger Katie at 5/11/2006 05:41:00 PM  

  • I don't know when Mothers Day originated, but I'm guessing it was some time ago . . . back when the world in general was a little more "traditional." Of course there have always been women without the oppertunity or circumstances to have children, but I think the world we live in is becoming increasingly more diverse than the time when Mothers Day was first celebrated. Additionally, I find that our church and our leaders are becoming more and more aware of these changes and doing as much as possible to make sure everyone is included no matter their circumstances. I think they're pretty savvy about the fact that we're not all married at 23 with 5 kids by our 30th birthday, etc . . . So here's my point. . . I think there are plenty of good motherhood quotes from our leaders/members that are inclusive to all types of mothers (those with and without children) without looking to an "apostate Mormon." Not because I think she is a BAD PERSON and I actually think it's a good quote. . . but it seems a little inappropriate, like quoting the KKK at a Black Panther meeting.
    posted by Blogger Guebb at 5/11/2006 09:06:00 PM  

  • guebb, thank you for making your point in a non-offensive way. Chloe brought up a great (sort of famous now) quote by Sheri Dew in her most recent post, that to me has similar points.

    Needless to say (maybe) I am not doing the whole quote thing. Life sort of got in the way of that...but I do have a nice basket filled with chocolate and those pots, so I think the ladies will be smiling.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/12/2006 06:44:00 AM  

  • Our ward here (Provo, UT) gives out the BIG Symphony candy bars. They seem to be a hit. I know my mom's ward in Idaho started doing candy bars, too, which she doesn't really appreciated because she doesn't like chocolate, but I think she is the exception. Definitely no carnations, though. That's much worse than the little potted flowers my home ward gave growing up.
    posted by Blogger mindy at 5/13/2006 10:17:00 AM  

  • As one of the actual recipients of your labor, I beg you, please, please, please get the chocolate. Any kind of chocolate. I'm not worried about sharing: it's mine; I make no apologies.

    Also, I spent 20-something years with people trying to give me stuff (some good, some bad) during sacrament meeting on mother's day because I
    1) couldn't find a mate for a very long time and then 2) couldn't reproduce,

    The "future mom" argument: Yes, I may be a mom in the future, maybe not until the next life, so give me a carnation then.
    The "motherhood is all nurturing" argument: Yes, I was plenty nurturing pre-baby--a FINE aunt, if I do say so myself, a Primay President, and general child nurturer. It's not the same thing as being a mom.

    Six months into motherhood, and I'm not at all convinced I deserve a gift even now! (And this is position I will be taking if carnations are indeed decided on:).

    PS, while I felt strongly about not taking a "mother's day gift" when I wasn't a mom, I've never minded that others did--I say you go, girl!
    posted by Blogger newmom at 5/13/2006 10:19:00 AM  

  • Hope I'm not intruding.

    I came onto this conversation too late after spending a week trying to resolve my own mother's day concerns--I got asked to give one of the talks. That spun me around a few times (I married at 32 and had our first baby at 34). I wanted to avoid pedastools and maudlin poetry at all costs.

    So, it might interest some of you to know that celebrating of US mother's day on the second Sunday in May is rooted in the works of several post Civil War activists--one who never had her own children. Ann Jarvis, a Virginian organized "Women's Work Days" in order to raise social awareness (plight of the poor). Inspired by her efforts, Julia Ward Howe (of Battle Hymn of the Republic fame) sought to organize national women's days for mother's to rally for peace. She felt they best understood the loss of life best. It was then the daughter of Ann Jarvis, Anna, who recalled her mother praying that one day there would be a day to commemorate all the women do for humanity, so that became her cause after her mother's death.

    And the carnations...we have her to thank for those as well. She began the tradition of passing out white carnations to all the women of her church on the first aniversery of her mother's death. The idea caught on in other cities and states. Ann Jarvis (the daughter) led a letter campaign to politicians and businessmen and a bill was passed in 1914 making it all nationally official.

    Ironically, she (in later years) became very upset that the holiday quickly became very commercialized in her mind. She got arrested for protesting the sale of some flowers being sold to raise money for WWI. And she is quoted as saying that greeting cards were for people too lazy to write letters to their mothers.

    An aside, I'm really bummed that Martha Beck beat me to the whole mother as verb instead of noun title thing. I thought I was pretty sharp to think that up this week myself--it's hard to learn that you're not original. At one point the talk was going to work around that very notion.

    As it is, I happily got the term "activist" in my talk and gave a shout out to Martha Hughes Cannon, the first female state senator (from Utah) who beat her own husband and Emmeline B. Wells by 3000 votes. She gave birth to her third child during her second term.

    So, I'm not so sure about "traditional." My talk got much more exciting the more I delved.
    posted by Anonymous Renee Jenkins Chambers at 5/14/2006 12:34:00 PM  

  • Thanks renee, hope the talk went well. My gifts went over well...though many folks took it upon themselves to have both chocolates and plants, I did not clarify, but my full basket was quickly emptied. And the lindt truffles are DEE licious
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/14/2006 02:54:00 PM  

  • Renee,

    Your talk sounds great. If you happen to have typed out your notes, I would love to read it. You can send it to talesfromthecrib at gmail dot com.

    Thanks for the carnation history. As a kid, my family had the tradition of wearing carnation corsages or boutinerres on Mother's Day. My mother and father wore white carnations to honor their deceased mothers and we all (the kids) wore red.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/15/2006 09:44:00 AM  

  • Oh, I also wanted to say that our ward gave out a cd of the primary kids singing 10 different primary songs to all the women in the ward. At first I thought it was weird because if you don't have primary kids it might seem like a strange gift, but the bishop presented it perfectly as he talked about the ward family. I thought it was a really creative idea.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/15/2006 09:48:00 AM  

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