We do love our mothers, if only because they are obliged to love us for better or worse. Mother-love is sacrificial. Mothers deserve to be honored somehow. That was the intention of Anna M. Jarvis, the Philadelphia schoolteacher who lobbied to create an official day of observance, epitomized by her when she memorialized her mother during church one year.
In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson finally proclaimed a national holiday to honor mothers, and it’s said that by nine years later, Jarvis had become so outraged with its commercialization that she spent the rest of her life and most of her money protesting “the abuse of the celebration.” She was even arrested once for disturbing the peace in opposition to the rampant consumerism that had people buying sentimental greeting cards for their mothers, instead of hand-writing letters to acknowledge the woman who brought each of them into the world personally.
When Jarvis was but four years old, Julia Ward Howe called women to protest the ravages of war in her Mothers’ Day Proclamation, written in 1870. Organized as a day for mothers dedicated to pacifism to rise up and protest the involvement of their husbands and sons in yet another armed conflict, Howe’s Mothers’ Day for Peace would have women actively reaching across national lines to recognize what opposing sides have in common, and committing to find peaceful resolutions to conflicts.
Howe might have been inspired by Jarvis’ mother, also named Anna, who had organized women throughout the Civil War to improve sanitary conditions for both sides, and who worked to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors after that conflict ended. Though Howe’s efforts were unrealized, it is interesting to note that the younger Jarvis succeeded in creating a day of honorable observation of mothers in great part due to the humanitarian sensibilities of the two elder women: Anna Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe.
Nearly a century later, Mothers’ Day celebrations here in the peaceful Hudson Valley take on a more festive note, with lots of tea-drinking and delicacy-eating, while mothers and their offspring take in the historical and cultural delights with which our region abounds. On Saturday, May 7 the grand Persian-style home of Frederic Church at Olana will be open for a Mothers’ Day Family Tour. Families are welcome at 11:30 a.m. to see the house, its paintings and treasures from a child’s perspective. Backpacks full of art supplies and activities are available to borrow while exploring that landscape. Kids 6 to 12 years old can take their sketches home or donate them to an ongoing public exhibit. Olana is located on Route 9G near the city of Hudson. Call (518) 828-0135 or visit www.olana.org for details.
Also on Saturday, May 7, the Ulster County Historical Society and the Stone Ridge Public Library will co-host a Mothers’ Day Tea and Lecture from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Bevier House on Route 209 in Marbletown. The historic house and lawn will be the site of a proper Victorian-style tea, with tea sandwiches and desserts. Suzanne Hauspurg, local historian and director of the Ulster County Historical Society, will discuss the violet industry in the area, focusing on the days when Rhinebeck was the Violet Capital of the World. Items for sale will include antique teacups and tea sets, vintage linens, violet seeds from Europe and wonderful gift baskets made just for Mothers’ Day. Admission is $5 per person. To register, please call the Ulster County Historical Society at (845) 338-5614 or the Stone Ridge Library Program Office at (845) 687-8726.
The Day They Stole Mothers’ Day! is a lively, fun and funny play written by local poet Christina Starobin. A short audience-interactive work about the origins of the holiday, it pulls young and old into the fantastic world of consumerism and the American family, where anything is possible and reversals can and do happen. The Day They Stole Mothers’ Day! will be performed by Word Salad featuring Michael Strong as Uncle Mad Sam, Carol Fijan as Auntie Salmonella and Starobin as Superior Sally, with Ann Cover and Mary Carroll. On Saturday, May 7, the company will appear at the Kingston Library at 55 Franklin Street, (845) 331-0507, at 10:30 a.m.; and in the afternoon at 3 p.m. a second show will take place at Saugerties Library at 91 Washington Avenue, (845) 246-4317.
The Royal Ballet’s Giselle is the Rosendale Theatre’s tenth in the series of “Dance Film Sunday” programs, each of which combines a dance-themed film portion and a live portion. A special screening of the dance in all its romantic splendor will be held on Sunday, May 8 at 2 p.m. to celebrate Mothers’ Day, with a pre-show talk by Eric Goldberg, an Ulster County-based educator, writer and music critic. Marianela Nuñez dances the role of Giselle and Rupert Pennefather dances as Albrecht. Together they lead the 100-member company in the ballet that perfectly balances dance and narrative. As a bonus, Rosendale’s Bywater Bistro will offer a $5 discount on its three-course Mothers’ Day prix fixe dinner to all patrons who show their Giselle ticket stubs. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for all students. See the Rosendale Theatre website at http://rosendaletheatre.org or call (845) 658-8989.
The quiet grandeur of Clermont State Historic Site will be the location of another Mothers’ Day Tea on Sunday, May 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. This will be a tented outdoor event that features a garden tour where Mom and kids can check out the frog pond and learn to identify new plants. The last mother-in-residence at Clermont was Alice Livingston, a woman who took a personal interest in the gardens and was often found outdoors with her hands in the dirt. Little dainties, cookies, cucumber sandwiches, hors d’oeuvres and “Clermont Blend” tea by Harney & Sons will be served. Tickets are $12, and reservations are required. Children under age 5 are free. Clermont is located off Route 9G, just north of Tivoli; call (518) 537-4240 or visit www.friendsofclermont.org.
Mothers’ Day at Boscobel will be an experience of another era, as “Lost in the Rose Garden” takes visitors a step back in time. On Sunday, May 8 from 1 to 4 p.m., a guided house tour will enchant one and all. Present Mom the sweeping views from the great lawn overlooking the Hudson River while strolling into the circular Rose Garden for a champagne reception with dainty desserts and a glass of bubbly for the adults and chilled lemonade for the children. “Lost in the Rose Garden” is a fashion-and-accessories presentation featuring merchandise from the Gift Shop at Boscobel, as well as Cold Spring’s Art to Wear Too, Hudson Valley Outfitters and Payning by Caryn. The house tour begins at 1:30, and the reception and fashion show start at 2:30 p.m. Tickets with the tour are $40 for adults, $30 for children. Tickets without the tour are $35 for adults, $25 for children. Friends of Boscobel tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for children. In the event of inclement weather, the reception will take place indoors. Space is limited, so purchase your ticket in advance by calling (845) 265-3638 or online at www.Boscobel.org. Boscobel is located on scenic Route 9D in Garrison, just one mile south of Cold Spring and directly across the river from West Point.
And if you’re in the Rondout on Mothers’ Day, Moms ride free on the Kingston Trolley from noon until 5 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and kids ages 5 to 12; kids under age 5 are free. The Trolley Museum is located at 89 East Strand in Kingston; call (845) 331-3399 or visit www.tmny.org. Take Mom for a train ride and enjoy the Historic Rondout District!