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Honoring ‘Mothers’ This Year

On May 12, 1907, the first “Mother’s Day” was celebrated when Anna Jarvis held a memorial service for her late mother who had organized women’s groups to promote friendship and health. Within a few years, it was being celebrated all across America and officially became a holiday in 1914. Originally, Jarvis created the custom of wearing a red or pink carnation to represent a living mother or a white carnation for a mother who has passed. However, over the years the holiday has changed and expanded to include others who have played the role of a mother in some way.


Mothers Day can be a difficult time of year for those without a biological mother in their life. However, it can still be a great time to celebrate all of the non-traditional “mother” figures and female role models in your life— grandmothers, aunts, sisters, mentors or anyone else who has made a significant impact on your life.


Think about all of the women who gave you advice, mentored you or were just there for you at a time when you needed it. There aren’t any official holidays to celebrate these special people in your life so create your own unique traditions to make sure they feel loved and appreciated for all they do.
Celebrating also doesn’t have to break the bank, here are a few ideas for honoring the mom figures in your life that are completely free or can be done with items you already have in your house and will be appreciated even more.

1. Write a card

Take some time to express your gratitude for all she’s done for you by writing down your thoughts in a card. This is something she’ll be able to hold onto forever and a great way to show your appreciation. Make it extra special by creating a completely homemade card with whatever extra craft supplies you have at home already!

Honor your mom this year with a special card. (Photo: Amanada Snead)

2. Create a memory journal

Grab a notebook and begin writing down your favorite memories, stories, life advice or whatever comes to mind. Print off some photos, add a few stickers and personalized messages and give her a gift she can treasure and display for years to come. If you don’t have an extra notebook at home, try a photo collage or something similar.

3. Ask friends and family to send a video message

Reach out to her friends and family to ask for a quick video clip about why they love her, their favorite memories with her or simply saying “happy mothers day.” Edit the clips together to show her just how many people care about and love her. This will be something she can rewatch whenever she needs a reminder of how special she is.

4. Make a home cooked meal

Avoid the crowds at restaurants and spend the night in to make her favorite home cooked meal or try out a new recipe you think she would like. A meal is just that much more special when it’s made by someone you love. You’ll also be able to spend time together without the noise and interruptions or a restaurant.

5. Visit a national park

A majority of national parks in the United States don’t charge an entrance fee and those that do offer entrance fee-free days. Go for a picnic, take a hike, spend the weekend camping and enjoy time outdoors and away from the stress of being in a city. There are plenty of parks nearby including Prince William Forest Park, Great Falls Park, Shenandoah National Park and many more.

An overlook at Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park. (Photo: Amanda Snead).

6. Give her the night off

If she’s a caretaker for someone else, as many mother figures tend to be, offer to help out so she can take some time off to relax. When you spend your time taking care of other people, it can be difficult to remember to take care of yourself. Help her set up an at-home spa with self-care essentials while you take care of the rest.

7. Find a free concert or event in the area

The Northern Virginia and DC areas are a great place to find free things to do. Many of the Smithsonian museums have free events, there are live music performances at lots of restaurants in Falls Church and the surrounding areas, free classes at fitness studios and more. You can find plenty of free classes, concerts and more in our calendar elsewhere in this issue.

The Hirshorn museum in D.C. (Photo: Amanada Snead)

8. Spend a night in

Keep things simple with a night in. Put on your favorite movie, put some popcorn in the microwave, throw on a face mask and relax. Take a few minutes to enjoy your time together and catch up. Think of other fun activities to do together like putting together a puzzle, playing a board game or other screen-free activities.

9. Have a small party/get together

For the more socially outgoing, invite some friends and family to come help celebrate them as well! Have a potluck so there will be plenty to eat and enjoy spending time with those you love.

10. Just show her you care.

Anna Jarvis hated the commercialization of this holiday and spent years trying to undo it. At the end of the day, this is a holiday centered around making the women who have made an impact on your life feel special, not a reason to go out and spend hundreds of dollars. More likely than not, a simple “thank you” will be enough for her.

Make sure to give some extra love and attention to the women and mother figures in your life this weekend and always.