Expressing special appreciation to parents on Mother's or Father's Day is natural and can be done by means other than purchasing expensive gifts. Last year, when my husband and I were contemplating how we might show our appreciation to my mother for Mother's Day, an alternative approach came to mind. Rather than taking her out to dinner or giving her flowers, we decided to give of our time and abilities.
My mother had been busy during the spring caring for other family members. She had not been able to do the usual yardwork or plant her annual large garden. We decided to spend Mother's Day working around the yard doing chores for her. Enthusiasm for the idea began to swell among family members. Not only would it save us all some money, but it could be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy one another's company. Most of all, it would be accomplishing tasks which our mother would appreciate.
We devised a plan for delegating specific tasks, gathering necessary tools, and purchasing a few potted plants for the big day.
When Mother's Day arrived, everyone gathered at my parents' farm homestead. After lunch, my husband took charge of the front-yard landscaping and flower planting. Some family members raked the yard, while others cut dead limbs from trees and bushes. The spacious yard was mowed, using several lawn mowers. Grandchildren helped by hauling leaves and twigs, fetching tools, watering plants (and thirsty workers), and assisting in errands. Young and old alike painted trim around flower beds and weeded around sidewalks and fences.
With Mother serving as director, several of us planted the garden.
After about six hours of labor, everyone felt satisfied with having done a hard day's work for such a worthy cause. At the end of that day, my mother's face was radiant with gratitude and happiness for the loving gifts of work completed and for the family fellowship.
We decided to plan a similar event for my father. An army of scrapers and painters arrived with ladders, buckets, brushes, and rags in hand on Father's Day to refurbish the two-car garage and attached workshop. It was a project Dad had been meaning to get done for a long time. With 14 pairs of hands in motion all afternoon, the exterior of the garage had a new look by supper time.
Mother and Dad were not the only ones who received gifts on their special days. All participants went home with hearts full of satisfaction and joy for the giving. This was proof to us that giving of one's self and time is indeed a precious gift, an offering of love.