It’s almost that time of year that the men of America’s churches fear the most: that day of reckoning when we have to decide what to do about Mother’s Day.
This doesn’t seem to be a problem for women. Women are just natural gift-givers. I think it’s biological. See, women have this ability to get sick, cramp up, get bigger, and then produce a baby. If a man gets sick and cramps up and gets bigger, no good is going to come of that.
So when Father’s Day comes around, the women of the church get together and, in ten seconds, have at least eight great ideas about what to do for the men. It’ll be clever and thoughtful and perfectly express the idea of fatherhood and Christian service and it will cost, for a church with one hundred men in it, about seven dollars.
The men, sometime in April, will be dragged together against their will and someone (in this case, me) will ask an innocuous question like, “What do we want to do for the women for Mother’s Day this year?” Based on the looks on everyone’s faces, you’d think this group of men had just been told they’d all been scheduled for invasive probes from their urologist.
Eventually, someone will ask, “What about bookmarks? Maybe with a verse about motherhood on it.”
I hate to be a wet blanket, but we did that last year. And three years ago. And then someone has the temerity to point out that the women of the church are now carrying Bibles that weigh in excess of ten pounds apiece, each volume now containing more bookmarks than sheets of paper. (In the men’s defense, this is not just because of Mother’s Day. Sunday School classes have been making bookmarks and giving them out for Christmas, Resurrection Sunday, Yom Kippur (even if they’re not Jewish), St. Smithens Day and Columbus Day (Italian congregations only).
It used to be easier. Back before we had so many shopping choices, churches just presented the mothers with flowers. A red flower if the woman’s mother was still living, white if she wasn’t. Or, possibly, the opposite of that.
And then, someone got the bright idea of giving out “special recognition” gifts. For instance, the woman with the most children present might receive a potted plant or the woman with the oldest child present would receive (this is where it started) a bookmark. But then someone realized that the same woman was getting the special prizes every year, so the churches had to start coming up with some new categories. “Mother with child who is farthest away” or “Mother with most generations of her family present” or “Poorest excuse for a mother.”
From there, it snowballed and it becomes my sad and unfortunate duty to call the men of my church together soon—I’ll put if off as long as I can—and ask, “What are we doing this year?” Maybe as a gift to the women we COULD all go to the urologist and get vasectomies.