The answer is: Sideboard and cardboard.
The question is: How do we celebrate Mother’s Day?
Let’s start with the sideboard, which is code for brunch, because be honest, have you ever in your life been invited to a Mother’s Day dinner? Neither have we. By about 4 in the afternoon, Mother’s Day is long forgotten. But brunch? That seems to be the mother of all meals.
In our family, here’s how the planning proceeds:
Email from Matriarch: “Your father and I would like to host a brunch for Mother’s Day. What are people eating?”
On the surface, nothing could be lovelier. Not only is “Grandma” having the gang over for a meal, she’s also asking what we’d like to have served.
Scratch the surface and behold the chaos and mayhem known as eating in the twenty-first century.
Five members of the family are vegetarians. Two are 80/20 pescatarians, which means that 80 percent of the time they adhere to a rigid food plan livened up by the occasional salmon and 20 percent of the time a Vienna hot dog sounds fine. Three members of the family are now gluten-free. Of those three, two don’t eat any bread and one cheats. One member of the family is on Weight Watchers, except when she’s not. Another member is a serious athlete who eats everything, and in large quantities. One is not a serious athlete, but eats like one. The youngest is on a strict cheese pizza and macaroni diet. And then there’s our father, who has survived for 80 years on fried chicken skin, sweetbreads, oysters and sardines.
Menu planning gets a little complicated. The fruit platter is the only common denominator, unless there’s too much cantaloupe, which is like the iceberg lettuce of fruit platters. Get it off the tray.
Enough about food, a statement you will rarely read in a Betsy and Sal column. Let’s skip to the cardboard aspect of Mother’s Day, which is code for cards. There are several options. One: Hallmark’s flowery cards written in italicized script with a translucent overlay of butterflies and sunsets. These express feelings of love, reverence, and appreciation – often in inspirational verse. Our families know enough to steer clear of these saccharine sentiments. Suffice it to say we are not the rainbow; we are often the storm.
Option two: Humorous cards. These usually involve some level of satire, wit and irony accompanied by either a cartoon figure or a stylish gal from the forties. Full disclosure: we like these. Here’s an example of the blurb on one, spoken by the apron-clad mom in the retro kitchen: “I child-proofed my house but they still got in.”
Option three: Hand-made cards. These are the best. They offer up a snapshot in time when our kids wrote in crayon and still loved us. They also allow for a two-week long activity directed by the pre-school and elementary school teachers making sure every mom is tangibly recognized on her one day on the throne. An example of an actual card written by one of our kids is: “Daisys are yellow, towlips are red. The shooger is lumpy and so is your head.” She was in first grade. This one hangs in the laundry room in a place of honor. The sentiment was genuine.
After the brunch, and after the card, traditionally there is a proffering of a gift. Here’s what we really want: You will find it, neatly wrapped and hidden in the laundry room behind the Clorox. All you have to do is attach the card and bring it to the brunch. And by the way, it’s exactly what we wanted… which is why we ordered it, wrapped it, and hid it three weeks ago.