Hallmark was made for women like my mom. She is total a holiday freak. She welcomes any excuse to celebrate and to send warm wishes to a loved one.
Growing up, we got cards for Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and even Sweetest Day (What the heck is Sweetest Day? you might be asking. I’ll tell you more in a jiffy). Currently, my mom is making a Halloween dress for Rae’s doll (also handcrafted by this woman of many talents) as well as her Toto costume. (Madeline wanted to be Dorothy this year and recruited her little sister to be her canine companion.)
She’s also already thinking about Christmas (she asked me for gift ideas for the girls about a month ago). The day after Thanksgiving my mom transforms her home into a magical Christmas Wonderland. She puts a different themed tree in every single room. There’s a Chicago Cubs tree, a dog tree, a fishing tree (they live on the lake), a tree with only golden trimmings, a sailboat tree, a tree trimmed with sage green and eggplant purple to match my mom and dad’s master bedroom, the big, main tree that’s trimmed with strands of colorful lights, all of our homemade ornaments from when my brothers and I were kids and ornaments from the many places my parents have traveled over the years, and I’ve surely missed a few.
Madeline gets such a kick out of their festooned house over the holidays. It’s like a Christmas museum, only you’re allowed to touch everything, even the Charles Dickens village in the foyer and the many beautiful Nativity scenes displayed throughout the house. Oh, and the outside lights would make Clark Griswold look like a Scrooge.
But this doesn’t make my mom a true holiday nut. After all, the vast majority of Americans celebrate Christmas in some way. But Sweetest Day?
Believe it or not, my mom still gets us gifts (or at least a card) for Sweetest Day. I remember as a kid she told us it was a day for celebrating your sweethearts and that us kids (and Dad) were most definitely her favorite sweethearts. One of my childhood friends mistakenly assumed we were dog freaks (instead of holiday ones) and that we got gifts in honor of our family dog’s birthday (who was named Sweetness). I had to clarify that we were celebrating a real holiday. She looked dubious, but she did tell her mom about it (what kid wouldn’t campaign for another excuse to get gifts?).
I’ve inherited my mom’s love for holidays. So my poor husband has to not only remember the biggies like our anniversary, Valentine’s Day, and my birthday, but he also has to make a note that the third Saturday in the month of October is Sweetest Day.
The Sweetest Day observance did not originate in our holiday-obsessed household (I promise). It was actually first observed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1922. Herbert Birch Kingston, a do-gooder and candy company employee, wanted to bring happiness into the lives of orphans, shut-ins, and others who might be lonely. So, he began to dole out candy and small gifts to the underprivileged. Thus, Sweetest Day was born. The holiday was once primarily celebrated in the Great Lakes region and the Northeast, but thanks to people like my mom who moved down South (she grew up in Chicago; hence, the Cubs tree), the observance is gradually spreading to other parts of the country.
Over the years, Sweetest Day has evolved into a holiday devoted to expressing romantic love and to showing appreciation for friends. We make it a family affair and get a token gift for our girls. Madeline and I also made Oreo truffles (the recipe calls for milk chocolate, but I substitute dark) and a card for Daddy (Rae added a few scribbles to the card).
Although it may seem like a silly holiday, I’m glad my mom passed this tradition along to me. She’s always been someone who makes sure you know you’re loved and appreciated, and Sweetest Day is just another way to do just that. There’s no need to make it commercial, but why not put a simple note under your kids’ pillows, telling them how much you love them or one reason you’re proud of them? Make your husband his favorite breakfast tomorrow (yes, tomorrow is the third Saturday of October). Send a cheerful email to a friend. Join holiday freaks like my mom and me and spread the love!