My mother wore red lipstick and aprons.
Red is my favorite color, and I wish I could wear the brightest, reddest lipstick like my mother. Aprons remind me of my mother and grandmother preparing meals in their kitchens or snapping green beans on the porch or hanging laundry on the line with a pocketful of wooden clothespins. I display two of my mom’s vintage Christmas aprons on my kitchen windows for the holidays and wear another one when I entertain guests for parties.
Hospitality is defined as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” Friendly. Generous. Modeled by my mom, a pastor’s wife on a tight budget, I knew as a young teenager that hospitality was in my DNA. I marveled at how my mom could execute a dinner party or birthday celebration or shower with clever details, and I wanted to be like her.
Mother’s Day was established as an America national holiday in 1914 to encourage each family to honor their mother for the sacrifices she made. The concept was conceived by Anna Jarvis, who never married or had children. But Anna’s mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, influenced the relentless drive in Anna through her own social endeavors. Before the Civil War, Ann started clubs to teach mothers how to care for their children. After the war, the clubs became gatherings to encourage mothers to be agents of reconciliation and peace.
My mother cooked a pot roast every Sunday.
I mean every Sunday. Even for company. And every Sunday night we ate roast beef sandwiches while watching Bonanza. It was tradition. Another tradition my mother devoted herself to was producing church cookbooks. She collected, organized, and typed recipes from members of the churches where she and my dad served.
My mother taught me basic cooking skills at an early age. She did not shy away from trying new recipes. She discovered recipes in magazines and newspapers and then boldly presented the new dish at a holiday gathering without fear of failure. My go-to recipes include cards with my mother’s handwriting, splotched pages from those decades old church cookbooks, and printouts from modern online cooking websites.
Traditions for Mother’s Day cover the globe. In Ethiopia, Mother’s Day lasts three days and requires all family members to provide ingredients for a hash recipe. Mother prepares a massive meal and a celebration punch. After the feast, mothers and daughters smear butter on their faces while men sing songs and everyone dances.
My mother sewed Easter dresses and Barbie doll clothes.
I do not sew. Not one stitch. But I loved going to the fabric store with my mom when I was a little girl. Sensory overload awakened my appreciation for color, texture, design, and the satisfaction of creating a palette with materials, patterns, and notions. Dressing Barbie in a variety of new, intricately crafted ensembles sparked my imagination to dream and tell stories.
This assemblage of different pieces that go together to make something beautiful is like my kaleidoscope of women friends. I travel through a few circles that inspire women though words, art, and scripture. We are uniquely designed, like pebbles of a mosaic, but we stretch each other to learn new things that enable us all to flourish.
My mother was there when I grew out of dolls and when I grew into bras. She nurtured me in the areas of homemaking, parenting, hospitality, tradition, creativity, sacrifice, and spiritual growth. She has lived in heaven for eight years but is still worthy of my honor on Mother’s Day.
Last month I made three daily commitments to prevent shelter-in-place stagnation and to nourish my spirit, mind, body, and soul. I studied Psalms and meditated on names and attributes of God. I read from a novel. I walked my neighborhood. And I communicated by phone call with someone each day.
This month I will honor a compassionate woman who is like a mother to me, encourage a vivacious niece who is a new mom, and rejoice with friends who celebrate Mother’s Day. But because Mother’s Day is different for everyone, I will also be friendly and generous to those with broken hearts. That is what my mother would do.
Comedian Anita Renfroe Momisms
Photo by Volha Flaxeco on Unsplash