Plan Ahead: Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Anna_jarvisAnna Jarvis worked long and hard to have Mother’s Day declared a national United States Holiday. But It didn’t work out as she had planned. Yes, she got the date recognized, but her intent was lost in rampant commercialization. Shortly after the holiday gained national stature, Jarvis scornfully labeled it a “Hallmark Holiday.”

There’s no denying that Jarvis was deeply disappointed. She reportedly found the practice of purchasing greeting cards especially irksome, seeing it as a sign of being too lazy to write a personal letter. She was, in fact, arrested in 1948 for disturbing the peace while protesting against this commercialization.

Today, many mothers receive and love cards and the flowers. You’ll even find a few of those funny talking Hallmark cards on our kitchen table. That said, we also see Anna Jarvis’s point. The real intent of Mother’s Day is to acknowledge mothers of all ages and that’s best said over a phone call, a visit, or a gift with personal meaning.

So here’s a short list of gifts that we think do a good job of underscoring her value. Since these ideas involve some planning and preparation, you should start soon.

Record some stories: Stories have universal appeal, especially when it’s a story about your family. There are several angles to this idea. If you are looking for an idea for your mother or mother-in-law, start rallying the troops and record stories that involve you, your siblings, your children and her. Stories could be about how you always love how she’s “there” when each year she sings Christmas carols loudly and enthusiastically. Or how your children giggle when she goes after them with tickles and kisses. If you are looking for an idea for your daughter or daughter-in-law, record some stories about your daughter’s childhood (or your son’s for a daughter-in-law). Then share those stories and listen to your family laugh. If you’ve got a smartphone you can easily do this by using the Saving Memories Forever system. On Mother’s Day listen to the recorded stories with her!

Make a digital photo album: Collect family pictures.Use your computer’s or digital camera’s photo-editing program to put together a slide show and burn it onto a disc. You’ll create a wonderful keepsake for the price of a blank CD. She can display the photos on her computer, and even use them as a screen saver. On Mother’s Day, enjoy watching the show with her.

Make a meal. Make a memory: Whether she’s your grandmother, your daughter, or your third step-cousin’s next-door neighbor, every mom deserves a little bit of pampering this Mother’s Day. So, why not serve her a fancied-up breakfast or a dinner made by you and the grandkids? Start planning now. Take a gander through the The Big Book of Breakfast with a roundup of 300 morning meals. Or plan something bigger: something that involves cooking time and a cookbook to share at the end of it.
There’s nothing that says “family” as well as the act of cooking. Cooking keeps traditions alive. Start by planning a family cooking date. Focus on making a recipe that is both meaningful to your family but also relatively easy, like making Greek cookies. As you make the recipe, record the instructions as “the cook” gives them. Take pictures as the recipe evolves. When you’re done, you can transcribe the words and produce a digital cookbook recipe. Or upload the cook’s recorded voice instructions (along with the background laughter) to a service like Saving Memories Forever and you can listen to those spoken words again and again. You can give her the cookbook or share the recording with her on Mother’s Day.



A Girl Scout in the Family

girl scouts at the white house

On March 12, 1912, the first Girl Scout meeting was held in Savannah, Georgia when Juliette Gordon Low brought 18 young women together to form a troop. Low’s focus was to provide opportunities to young women and ensure their physical, mental and spiritual development.

The vision that Low had, starting with that first meeting, was an organization that was “girl-centered.” What started with just 18 girls has grown to an organization with over 3.2 million girls and adults. According to the Girl Scouts of America, there are over 59 million women in the United States today who can be claimed as Girls Scouts alumnae.

The Girl Scouts of America was patterned after the popular Girl Guides organization in Britain, but by 1920 had developed its own distinct uniform, handbook and organizational structure. By then, there were 70,000 girl scouts across the country.

During the Great Depression, many troops focused on community service including food drives and providing meals to those in need. Also in the 1930s, with a focus on age appropriate activities, Girl Scouts were split into divisions including the Brownies. And did you know that ithe first Girl Scout cookies were commercially baked in the 1930s?

With the arrival of World War II, community service included scrap metal drives, learning how to grow Victory Gardens as well as how to handle blackouts and air raid drills.

The 1950s and 1960s is when the organization saw its largest growth, thanks to the post-war Baby Boom. As the Girl Scouts continued to grow towards the end of the 20th century, activities included computers and developing technology skills for young women. And now in the 21st century, new badges such as Global Awareness and Environmental Health reflect the challenges women, and all of us, will face in the coming decades.

Did the Girl Scouts Play a Role in Your Family?

For many families, the Girl Scouts were a big part of “growing up” in the United States. More and more family historians are discovering that memories of being a Girl Scout and participating in activities make for great family stories.

Here are some interview questions, writing/journaling prompts and project ideas:

  • Which of your ancestors were members of the Girl Scouts? What is the earliest instance you can find of a family member participating in Girl Scouts?
  • Do you have a current family member who was or is involved in the Girl Scouts? Consider interviewing your older relatives (using Saving Memories Forever, of course) and ask them what it was like to be a Girl Scout as they grew up. Discuss the skills they developed.
  • Have you inherited a box of Girl Scout items such as sashes, uniforms, handbooks and more? Contact your local troop and ask if they would be interested in the items for their archives. If not, create a video or slide show describing the items and who in your family owned them.
  • Were you a Girl Scout? Record your own memories in a variety of formats including audio, digital images and in writing.

© 2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Thomas MacEntee

Thomas MacEntee is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogical research and as a means of interacting with others in the family history community. He is a frequent guest blogger for For more information visit