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Mother's Day Gift Guide

How to Go Out of Your Way to Really Make Her Day

May 07, 1999|PAMELA WARRICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

If, as our mothers always said, it's the thought that counts, then what could be better than a gift you've really put thought into?

A gift so perfectly suited to your mother and yours alone that it will virtually guarantee her bragging rights until next Mother's Day rolls around.

So what are we talking about here? Well, it's not jewelry (unless you are a silversmith or gold miner with a knack for turning precious metals into something your mother can actually wear in company other than yours). And it's not cash, or flowers or candy (the latter two permissible only if you raised the flowers from seeds and cooked the candy in your own kitchen; as for the cash, well, it's probably OK if you give enough of it).

But Mother's Day isn't a time for materialism. No, what we're talking about here is a gift-in-kind. That is, something that could be offered in the same loving spirit with which your own dear mother made your favorite dessert when you were not chosen queen of the prom, typed your term paper when you broke your arm, or drove three hours to pick you up early from summer camp because you were homesick.

Young children have long known the way to a mother's heart, if not her stomach. Who cares that the pancakes have lumps the size of boulders, so long as they are served up with a smile by your own chubby-cheeked chef.

And how about those little No. 1 MOM trophies? So what if the "gold" plating lasts 10 minutes; it has display value surpassed only by that of the ubiquitous clay ashtray.

Keri Bacic, a part-time teacher and Arcadia mother of two, is a big fan of handmade gifts. A few years ago, she began moonlighting as a consultant for Creative Memories, an international crafts company that offers classes and supplies to make keepsake albums.

Using acid-free papers and adhesives, each page is decorated with mementos such as old photos and letters, ticket stubs, news clippings or written recollections with special meaning for Mom.

"You know your mom will get mad at you if you spend too much money on her anyway, so why not make her something?" says Bacic, whose own children, Samantha, 9, and T.J., 11, have made their mother memory books of their poems, scraps of fabric and lace, and pressed wildflowers.

New York photographer Carolyn Jones made something special for her mother this year--a 140-page coffee table book about mothers. "The Family of Women--Voices Across the Generations" (Abbeville Press, 1999) solved the problem Jones faced every year in trying to find the perfect Mother's Day gift.

"It's such an emotionally loaded day," Jones says. "Women need to find new ways of looking at their mothers, to begin to see them as women as well as mothers."

In past years, Jones has found interesting ways to give her mother, Jeanne, something special without ever venturing into a store.

"One year, I had a friend with a little plane, and I decided to fly to her house for a surprise visit," Jones says. "Other great ways for moms and daughters to celebrate the day is to go out and do something important together. Go work in a soup kitchen, go visit someone in a nursing home who is sick and alone, or spend some time with someone who lost their mother recently."

Taking a day off from work and giving that time as a gift to a mother who doesn't get out as often as she'd like can deliver a far more profound message of love than any greeting card. The day can turn into a time of errand hopping for mom or a day of leisurely shopping and lunch on the town.

A surprise reunion with dear friends or faraway family members (or a special letter from them solicited by you) is another gift you can "make" yourself that is certain to fill mother's heart with love--and pride in her ever-thoughtful child.

Is there something you can fix around Mom's house? Hang a new screen door, repaint the kitchen, plant colorful spring flowers in a pot? You can make up your own gift certificates for each task or just put a big bow around the door, or a card on top of the paint can.

Sourcebooks of Naperville, Ill., publishes "Dear Mommy Coupons" for children of any age to give their mothers. There are tear-out coupons good for such priceless gifts as a bedtime story (the child reads to the mom), an uninterrupted phone call or shower, and one coupon that tells the child to "Go ask Daddy."

Danielle Crittenden, founder and editor of the conservative Women's Quarterly magazine, has a different sort of book out this Mother's Day. It is dedicated to her mother, a Canadian journalist, and is titled "What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us" (Simon & Schuster).

With the goal of explaining why, despite the good intentions of a generation of "liberated" mothers, "happiness eludes the modern woman," the book stirs the debate over women's roles yet again. Can we have it all? The answer, concludes Crittenden, is, sadly, no.

With the author's mother back home baby-sitting her 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter for the duration of the book tour, Crittenden says she is more thankful than she can say.

Come Sunday, Mrs. Crittenden can expect at the least a basket of flowers.

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