FAMILY Blog: Not Another Hallmark Holiday

Full disclosure: I’m not a big fan of what I call the “Hallmark holidays.”

You know what I mean—those “holidays” scattered throughout the year that seem designed only to make money for greeting card companies, florists and restaurants.

(Free advice to fellow members of the male species: If you share my opinion, don’t let your wife know—especially just before Valentine’s Day!)

I love the “big” holidays that happen from November to January. They are opportunities for family gatherings, traditions and a much-needed break from day-to-day stresses.   

What I call the “patriotic” holidays—Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day—are great rememberances as to how our country was forged. They’re ideal times for memorial concerts and festivals, parades and time spent outside.

Then there are the holidays that seem designed just so government employees and banks can have a three-day weekend, with Columbus Day being a prime example. I have no problem with these holidays because there are no expectations.

But holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are scary. Expectations are high, especially if you’re a guy. Flowers, dinner, jewelry, cards, candy…Prices skyrocket at the local florist, and restaurants are packed. The roses usually don’t last long, and I’ve never seen the point of taking mom to brunch at a crowded restaurant with a bunch of screaming, squirmy kids. If I were a mom, that’s the exact opposite of what I’d want to do on Mother’s Day.

Perhaps my cynicism is inherited: My parents grew up in wartime England, when food and gasoline were rationed, and many evenings were spent huddled in underground bomb shelters. They moved to this country when I was a toddler and struggled to understand some of our customs and holidays. 

My dad was particularly perplexed by Halloween. He was never going to let his son go door to door “begging for candy.” Luckily (for me), my mother’s insistence on adapting to the culture of their new country prevailed.

But the non-traditional holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were never big parts of our lives. I grew up watching my mom and dad show every day how much they loved each other. My dad passed away more than 20 years ago, but I will never forget him bringing my mom a cup of tea in bed every morning, not just on special occasions. And I learned to respect and appreciate all they did for my brother and me every day of the year.  

All that said, in today’s hectic times, it’s appropriate to pause and remember the special people and special relationships in our lives. Here at Washington FAMILY, we do that more globally, by honoring our “Moms of the Year,” in the pages that follow.

This is the second year of this feature; the honorees were nominated and voted on by you, our readers. And their stories are truly impressive. Not only are they moms (truly an amazing job unto itself), but they also have successful careers, run nonprofits and are active in their communities. Just reading about these women and all of their endeavors exhausts me.

It’s a cliché to say that every day should be Mother’s Day, but it’s true. There’s nothing as beautiful as a mother’s unconditional love for her child. There’s nothing as strong as a mother’s bond with her baby.      

And because about 98 percent of our readers are mothers themselves, if we could honor all of you in this edition, we would. I see our “Moms of the Year” as a way for us to say “thank you” for all that you do. Thank you for your tirelessness. Thank you for your dedication. And thank you for your devotion. (Oh, and thank you for reading our magazine!)

Now, isn’t that much nicer than a Hallmark card?

Bruce Potter

Chief Operating Officer

Northern Virginia Media Services

[email protected]


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