Need an interesting conversation starter for the table this month? Ask your family what May’s two major holidays—Mother’s Day and Memorial Day—have in common. While the obvious answer is that they both start with the letter M, there’s a deeper connection you may not know about.
According to this History.com article, what we refer to as “Mother’s Day” in America stems from the service and peacekeeping efforts of a woman named Ann Reeves Jarvis. Ann introduced “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” in the 1800s to help women care for their children: These clubs later became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.
See how it all comes together? Service, and peace, and mom?
Whatever this month’s holidays mean to you, we offer a few ideas for using them as means for connecting with your family and the wider world in ways that work for you.
There are so many ways to do this—and you can brainstorm with your kids how you would like to be honored, or how you might honor the grandmothers and aunts and any other important women in the family. Certainly writing thank you letters or poems to each person could be a simple and fun project to do together. And of course letting the troops cook you dinner or breakfast in bed is always an excellent exercise! With older kids, why not get a little more creative and suggest a Mother’s Day Roast? We dare you.
There are often lots of ways you can pay it forward with your family on Mother’s Day. Do a Google search on ‘Mother’s Day volunteer opportunities’ in your area to find any organized events. Or start right in your own neighborhood, with the people closest to you. Think about who might be alone this Mother’s Day. Or who is a struggling single mom. Or who has recently lost their own mother. Then, as a family, pay it forward with a home-cooked meal, or a treat, or simply some of your family’s time and attention. We call these meal-oriented acts of kindness #familydinnerforward (And learn how you can participate again for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day on May 15th!)
So far we’ve been talking about moms only, but Memorial Day offers an opportunity to say thank you to the men and women who serve or have served our country, whether in your family, your community or the wider world. Memorial Day is about more than just the barbecues (although we love those, too). You can use this brief Time for Kids article as a mean of generating a discussion about the holiday’s deeper meaning with your family, and brainstorm together ways to say thanks. Operation Appreciation, run by our partner Blue Star Families, is a good place to start.
No mom wishes for fighting, screaming kids during Mother’s Day dinner, right? In that spirit, for our final tip of the month, we offer up our tried and true ideas for taming tension at the table (say that five times fast). If all else fails and peace is still hard to come by, get outside and take a walk together. Nothing soothes the soul like a little nature. For conversation, throw out a relevant conversation starter such as “If you were president, how would you create world peace?” And if you’re child is ready to take action, check out Kids for Peace.