Old Mother's Day traditions give way to new ones

May 1, 2012

One of our great traditional holidays is a cornerstone of the month of May; it looms on the horizon of the calendar and is called Mother’s Day.

If you are fortunate enough, under the right circumstances, to be able to celebrate that with someone who has meaning in your life, then you know how difficult it is sometimes to come up with that perfect gift.

Sure, we have our staid, tried-and-true reminders, such as flowers, cards, perfume, jewelry, and for those who live in states like Montana, that ever-popular John Deere tractor.

But technology has changed the entire gift-giving concept that we struggle with on most of our major holidays, including Mother’s Day. And mothers and grandmothers have changed their lifestyles also. We no longer have that image of a white-haired woman rocking in her chair on the wraparound porch of her Southern home, just waiting for that long-distance call from the children. Of course, the phone company still uses the image, mostly to drive us to tears so we’ll pay the bill, as the aged mother waits and waits for just one little word.

Today, the grandmother is more than likely to be familiar with the fax machine. Not that she gets a fax from the children, but she’ll send one to let them know she is leaving in her RV for a healing Ashram out in New Mexico for the very, very, nervous, and don’t bother trying to get in touch, unless of course, you want to place an order for the turquoise jewelry she will be selling on Craigslist.

Mothers and grandmothers in today’s society are young enough to be on the move. Cruise ships abound with tales of grannies gone wild with such risqué behavior as going without panty hose. Yeah, bare legs. Can you imagine? Well, actually we can; if you’ve ever hit the Boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach in the summer, you've seen grannies showing more than bare legs. Hey, men have gotten away with showing milk-white legs in short shorts with black knee socks and leather shoes for years. Why not grannies?

But the latest technology allows for family members to see each other without actually visiting in person. It’s called FaceTime; it’s where you can talk with someone live on a monitor. Basically it works like this … well, actually I don’t have a clue how it works. If you want to try it though, you have to have the same, in our case, iPad as the other person. The best advice is to find yourself a child, preferably 12 and under, to walk you through this procedure. We use our grandson, who is much older and is almost too busy to be bothered with computer-illiterate grandparents. In his situation, it is considered community service and he gets credit for working with the elderly.

It will take about four hours for a 12-year-old to teach you, and that’s just how to turn the device on. Basically it is blind luck, and by some miracle after awhile, the computer will get fed up and turn itself on.

Now you can see your children on the monitor in front of you. They also can see you, well, mostly your ear, nose or other part of your body, since you will never be able to work this thing to the point where you are completely in focus.

In the right-hand corner is a snapshot of what you will look like as you send this image. And again, this usually is your right thumb, which covers up most of the picture. The whole process kind of looks like one of those shots of the astronauts from outer space or the old black-and-white shots sent out by the Russians in the 1950s.

Now that I think about it, it might just be easier to jump in the car and pay a real visit on Mother’s Day. It will be the gift that keeps on giving, even if it is 3,000 miles and no one is home. Lots of payback for this one.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.