Robbie and I side-stepped in unison with all the other guys lined up in front of the greeting cards at CVS. It was as quiet as a library. All of us were pulling cards from the rack, reading a line or two then putting them back carefully. After we’d all examined all the cards within reach, we’d all shuffle sideways and start over with a new batch.
Every now and then, a guy would heave a sigh of relief and peel off to buy his card leaving the rest of us behind feeling increasingly anxious. Did he get the last card in the shape of a birdhouse? Was the supply of pink ribbons diminishing? What if we had nothing left but cards featuring Garfield, the fat orange cartoon cat?
That’s when the silence was broken with the loud, offensive sound of flatulence. It was Robbie, my nine-year-old son. He’d grabbed a card and opened it, triggering the explosive noise. All the other guys at the rack were startled. They frowned at the intrusion.
But Robbie was beaming. “Dad!” he said waving the card triumphantly. “I’ve got to get this! Mom will love it!”
The inscription inside: “From your little stinker.”
It was $6. I bought it anyway. It’s worth every penny. His mom will love it – and it’ll provide hours of entertainment for all three boys.
Cynics deride Mother’s Day as a scam designed to enrich card companies and chocolatiers. Even the woman who invented the holiday had mixed feelings about it. Anna Jarvis was a strong-willed spinster who spent a decade on an obsessive quest to create a holiday to honor her mother – and, indeed, all mothers.
She wrote thousands of letters to politicians and gave speeches all over the U.S. Her quest was relentless. Finally, in 1914, Congress declared the second Sunday of May to be Mother’s Day.
Jarvis, a bit of an odd duck, quickly soured on the idea, annoyed at the way her holiday was being commercialized. In a letter to a newspaper, she accused “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and other termites” of greed in profiting from the celebration. (Miss Jarvis would be even more horrified today if she got a glimpse of those all-you-can-eat Mother’s Day Buffets.)
But I think she had the right idea. I wouldn’t be the man that I am without my wife and my mom. Thank you, Anna Jarvis, for giving us a day to honor the women who support us and love us. Even if that does mean there’s a market for flatulent cards.