This Mother’s Day, we share with you the gifts we gave our mothers that, often to our great surprise (and relief), lit up their world. These gifts—some frivolous, some extravagant, some well-planned, others whimsically chosen—would turn out to create lasting memories of our relationships with our mothers. And for us, the daughters, nothing comes close to knowing that our gesture, whether simple or luxurious, brought our mothers joy and laughter and reminded them how truly loved and appreciated they are. —Ed.


The Manhattan Mother’s Day Hat

5231CWSI_TEA_1 Mommie’s birthday was always between Derby Day and Mother’s Day.   She had a large party for her 92nd birthday with more relatives attending than anyone could imagine.  Mommie loved clothes, jewelry, and getting all dolled up.  She called me before the New York tribe headed south for this event and mentioned that on Mother’s Day—which fell on May 8, the Sunday of her birthday weekend—the Sunday service would focus on the mothers in the congregation.  She hoped to win “the oldest mother” award and she wanted to fill a pew with all of her New York boys sitting in the pew with her: The Husband, Ashley, Baxter, Garrett, and Hunter. She told me that on this Mother’s Day Sunday, all of the mothers in her congregation had been asked to wear a hat . . . . pause. “Patricia, you would not believe where these women have gone to buy new hats,” she said.  “Everyone is talking about their new hat . . . pause . . . I just can’t believe that some of them started looking months ago . . . ”

“A new hat would be nice, but I don’t need one, of course” was—of course—code for “I want a hat from New York, and no other woman in my church will have a hat from Manhattan.” I had two days to find a hat to go with her new suit.  And of course I needed a new hat for this competitive occasion. 

Mommie’s suit was cream-colored.  I found just the right church hat at a specialty hat store in Manhattan. Then I bought the largest black hat with a veil that I could find to wear with my white suit.

I had to carry two large hatboxes onto the plane to Nashville. Lots of sweet talk to the Southern stewardess got me through that one.  Mommie loved her hatbox.  She loved her hat. And she loved the pew that her New York family filled. Mommie with all her boys and Mommie and me. Oh yes, she did win the oldest mother competition as well.—Patricia Yarberry Allen

Pictured: ‘Off Face Tea Cloche,’ by Louise Green,



A Frivolous Gift for a No-Nonsense Woman

Mildred HarkinsShopping for gifts for Mildred, my mother, was always stressful. She wanted to be feted, but she was the enemy of luxury. She wore no jewelry, makeup, or perfume. We weren’t to give her clothes. (A blouse or slip or bathrobe was okay, but for anything else, she wanted to choose for herself.)  She quailed visibly at the idea of useful gifts for the house. (Each year, we’d threaten her again with a polisher-scrubber.) But on one Mother’s Day shopping expedition I found the magic present—a black alligator clutch. “This is too frivolous,” I said to myself—and was amazed by her unlikely delight. She almost never carried it (it was reserved for Special Occasions), but she loved having it. I have it still. —Deborah Harkins

Pictured: Very special occasion: Mildred Harkins with The Clutch and her son Paul.



 For the Wonder Women in Our Lives

cuffhismercyendurethforeverbrassMy mother is not too keen about her children spending any kind of money on her. “Save your money for the down payment on the house,” you can often hear her saying. She comes from a culture where the parents take care of the children, not the other way around. So, when a friend showed me her new jewelry line of gorgeous cuffs engraved with, serendipitously, one of my mother’s favorite scriptures (“His mercy endures forever,” Psalm 136), I knew I was in for another lecture and perhaps a demand to return it immediately.

But I took the risk. And predictably, the well-scripted lectured ensued. “How much did this cost?” “Why are you spending your money on these kinds of things?” “I have enough jewelry!” Months later I ran into one of my mother’s work colleagues, who told me that my mother wore that cuff to work every day! (Highly over-the-top for the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital where she works, by the way!) “She struts around like Wonder Woman in her ‘bullet proof’ cuff,” I was told. “Letting everyone know it was her favorite gift from her daughter.” I never told my mother I know all about her Wonder Woman parading and prancing around. She has always been Wonder Woman in my eyes. —Grace Ali

Pictured: ‘Enduring Mercy Cuff,’ by Janet Hill Talbert, On this Rock Jewelry.

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  • Susanna Gaertner May 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Deb, I see so much of you in your mother’s stance and in the way she holds her head. Amazing. And of course I am happy for you that the alligator clutch was a hit! No wonder it is an enduring memory; you and Paul must be pleased that it was captured in a photo.

  • Susan Soriano May 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    What a wonderful photo. I want that handsome alligator bag! And thanks for the reminder to leave notes for the next generation. It’s made me begin to think of all the notes and stories I’d like to leave for my son, now a teenager.

  • Toni Myers May 10, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Oh yes, parents do not want their children spending money on them, especially the mothers. But I am happy you did. Hear! Hear! to Paul Harkins’ comments. I think it’s an excellent plan to make notes on objects/photos that have meaning to family. A treasured possession is a notebook, copied by my sister-in-law, of grandfather’s typed memoirs.

  • Paul Harkins May 10, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Thanks for the memories of an important day every year for every family.
    Please remember to take pictures at your Mothers day gathering and be sure to caption them with the date, the event and the people.
    I do not remember this picture or date or the reson for the obviously rented tuxedo and that is all lost to history.

    We have similar unannotated family pictures from about 1900 on our walls, and we simply cannot identify some of the people, event or date for the important photo of our past.

    Consider posting your family history on for those who follow and for your own enjoyment.

  • Andrea May 10, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the wonderful mothers. Past and present!!! Xo