Sunday, March 10, 2013
More people have a mother than a lover, observed the consumer research analyst from Kantar Worldpanel, explaining why we spend twice as much on Mother’s Day as we do on Valentine’s Day.
Apparently this year’s sales are likely to have dipped because Mother’s Day came early. With the two events so close, and Christmas just a few crumpled-wrapping-paper weeks before, it’s not surprising that our wallets have been feeling a little jaded. Apparently we’re all suffering from “gifting fatigue”.
Mind you, that didn’t stop our supermarkets dragging out their purple Spoil Your Mum signs, special boxes of “Thank You” chocolates and the usual load of flower-bedecked tat.
“Thank You” is the big retail buzz-phrase for Mother’s Day. Thank you for bearing us, rearing us, giving up your entire life for us – here’s a box of Milk Tray. Cadbury’s offered a big thank-you or a little one, depending on your budget – all part of a frantic, two week, £400million “gifting event”, as it’s called in the trade.
It’s a far cry from the religious festival of Mothering Sunday, which originally had nothing to do with celebrating Mums at all, but was the day when the servants were given a day off and allowed to travel home to visit their “mother church” – a rare occasion when they could be reunited with their own families. They’d pick wild flowers on the way, which were certainly fresher than the buckets of bright, cellophane-wrapped tulips most Mums were presented with this morning.
It took 20th century Americans to invent what we now know as Mother’s Day. And boy, did our own British retail industry embrace it. From the 1950s onwards, it’s been one big gifting-fest.
Not that I want to seem mean-spirited. Today I was probably as Mum-obsessed and diligent as any son. I even bought her tickets to see Nigel Kennedy. Probably a wiser move than taking up the offer from Newcastle United of a Mother’s Day Special – kids went free if you could persuade Mum to sit through this afternoon’s game against Stoke. Imagine how that would have gone down in our household.
How inconsiderate of the football powers to organise home matches on both Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day this year. My friend Dick and I think that our wives should offer due gratitude for our sacrifice – giving up a home game is worth far more than any bunch of flowers: missing two is equivalent to half a tulip-field.
Jo had already given me a strong hint about the gift she most wanted. When I say hint, I really mean instructions: “If I can’t have a house in California, I’d like some anti-wrinkle cream from Space NK, a long lie-in, and Eggs Benedict in bed, please”.
Suspecting that a 4-year-old might have problems with the Hollandaise sauce (“using a double pan, whisk the eggs and lemon juice, then with your other hand, carefully and slowly pour in warm, melted butter, ensuring it doesn’t separate or land on your feet”), I got up at 5am to practice.
Have you any idea how much butter it takes to get that luscious, rich, gooey sauce? Finding English muffins in England was pretty hard too, and thankfully Jo didn’t seem to mind that the Canadian bacon was Northumbrian.
Izzy played her part: Jo lay undisturbed until – well, nearly 8.30am. We picked snowdrops out of the snow and went up with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, a large cappuccino and the best-looking Eggs Benedict I’ve ever cooked. Which was also the first. Jo’s smile when she saw us was worth all the effort.
Later we took my Mum to the pub for lunch. We have a fantastic local, called The Ox, which does one of the best Sunday roasts in the region. It was full of Mums and Grannies being lunched. Jo glowed – she said it was the anti-wrinkle cream, but I blame all the butter in the Eggs Benedict.
But Mum’s face bore the biggest smile in the room. That could have just been the four glasses of Prosecco, but I prefer to think it was down to her Nigel Kennedy tickets. She genuinely cried with joy when she saw them. Bless.