You may associate Mother’s Day in the U.S. with cards that you can buy, but it was actually first celebrated in the early 1900s by wearing a white carnation flower.
By 1914, what Philadelphia-based Anna Jarvis started as a private show of respect for her late mother had become an official national holiday.
Less than a year later, Jarvis began to note florist, card, and candy industries jumping on the new opportunity to sell. Frustrated with the day’s growing commercialization, Jarvis would spend the last years of her life trying to remove it from the calendar.
To return to Mother’s Day’s origins, we asked a crafting instructor, mother of three, grandmother of five, retired nurse, and TikToker to show us her favorite gifts.
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Barbara Lash, a Massachusetts native, began using TikTok after her grandson featured her in one of his videos – then his friends requested more. Now, she has over 39,000 followers and greets them with her signature “Hi TikTokers, Aba here,” a nickname from her grandkids. “I talk about serious things and I talk about not serious things," Lash says. “And it's just a fun thing to do.”
She’s since found through the comments on her videos that many connect with her warmth, perhaps especially those who don’t have close relationships with family.
In a post that’s garnered half a million views, Lash explained that every night she goes outside and finds five stars in the sky – one for each grandkid – and sends them messages. That night, she decided to start a new tradition: “I found a number 6 star, and I decided that that number 6 star was gonna be for all of you TikTokers, collectively...I wish you a good night and a good day tomorrow.”
Lash’s tips for Mother’s Day echo her approach on TikTok, which comes down to loving communication. She grew up with her grandmother saying, “If you have a thought in your head and you have an emotion in your heart, you bring it out through your mouth.” Though she doesn’t expect a physical gift on Mother’s Day, she does expect a call. “I don't need stuff. I need to know that I'm in their life and they're in my life.”
If you do want to give a gift, try to go with one that’s handmade or handwritten, she suggests. Lash points to drawings she’s received – a robot and cactus from the younger grandkids – as well as travel memories and shared mantras from the older ones. For those looking to make something last-minute, she shows us how to fold a piece of paper into a tea bag holder in the video above.
For many reasons, Mother’s Day isn’t joyful for everyone. Aba’s advice applies to all of us when she emphasizes that, in daily life, the unspoken word sometimes gets buried. You can start to spread the love today, she says, by simply complimenting a stranger.