Last chance to shop before Father’s Day

Mother’s Day was not a big deal in my house when I was growing up. This is most likely because my father didn’t teach us kids to observe it, and my mother was too much of a martyr to insist upon it. As a result, I don’t expect a great deal for Mother’s Day myself, although I am fortunate enough to have a husband who ensures that I don’t have to cook or do the dishes on that day. Sometimes my kids make me cards. I appreciate all of this because it’s nice, but the nicest thing about Mother’s Day this year was not having to go to church and listen to some bullcrap about how important women are. That may be the only good thing about 2020 so far.

Not to be a negative Nelly, but I’d rather not observe Mother’s Day at church. I mean, obviously, some people have baggage about motherhood or about their own mothers or their lack of motherhood or mothers. We don’t want anyone to feel excluded by a celebration of mothers, so we try to make it All Women’s Day, which is a nice thought, I guess, but everyone knows it’s actually Mother’s Day and no one forgets their mother-related or mother-adjacent baggage long enough to appreciate the gesture, and there’s also this: Given how many religious holidays we don’t observe in our church, isn’t it kind of weird that we have special programs for non-religious holidays?

That isn’t the point of this post, though, not really. I mean, I am a mother, I don’t really pay attention at church half the time, so if we continue to celebrate Mother’s Day at church, it’s no skin off my nose. I stand in solidarity with the women who hate Mother’s Day, not because I personally hate it but because it’s not essential to my salvation, and I’ve been told I shouldn’t worry about things that fall into that category.

No, what I really want to talk about is the disparity between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. On the one hand, I get the feeling that IN THE WORLD fathers get short shrift; people are more likely to observe Mother’s Day than Father’s Day. That is just the sense I get—I don’t have statistics, I haven’t read studies, I haven’t even done a Google search. I just have a feeling about it. And the only reason we observe Father’s Day at church is because we observe Mother’s Day. If we stopped observing Father’s Day, I doubt very much that anyone would notice or care. (Anyway, we’re not apt to forget that men are essential to God’s plan, no matter what the theme of sacrament meeting is.)

All of that is a prelude to my true topic, which is the disparity between the gifts wards give to women on Mother’s Day and the gifts wards give to men on Father’s Day. It is traditional to give women plants for Mother’s Day, because that is exactly what all mothers crave on their day off: a new, ongoing responsibility for yet another living thing. I know that lots of women like plants—they find them cheery or colorful or calming or…you know, I don’t really know why people like plants because I hate plants. And when I say that I hate plants, what I mean is that I kill plants. Granted, I do not go out and destroy plants in the wild, and I have yet to kill a plant that belonged to anyone else, but every plant that has ever belonged to me is dead because I killed it. Usually not on purpose, but mostly because plants, unlike children and pets, don’t scream or cry when you neglect them. If they did scream or cry, that would just be one more reason not to have them, in my opinion, but in that case, I’d probably give them up for adoption so they could have a chance at life. I would certainly not acquire them on purpose.

And believe me, I have tried not to acquire plants. Historically, when they have handed out plants at church on Mother’s Day, I have refused them. Or tried to refuse them, anyway. Sometimes I have had plants thrust upon me regardless of my protestations. And then, of course, I killed them. Plants rarely last a week in my care. I once kept a basil plant alive for three months and I felt like Mother Theresa; I thought perhaps I was a changed person, but I eventually killed that sucker too. (Turns out using fresh basil was just a phase for me.)

Anyway, my current ward has not always done plants for Mother’s Day, but this year, despite being unable to meet together, our Relief Society graciously delivered succulents to all the adult women on our special day. I have to say, I am not so much offended by a succulent because I understand they don’t require much maintenance. Indeed, I may find it very difficult to kill. I don’t know how often I should water it, but if never is okay, that explains how it’s doing so well four weeks later. It’s not a very big succulent, but it doesn’t matter—it could be ten times its size and I would literally never think about it. It’s possible that someday I’ll be cleaning my kitchen and say to this succulent, “You know what, you may still be alive, but I am sick to death of seeing you,” and toss it in the trash, but considering my kitchen-cleaning schedule, this also seems unlikely.

So I wasn’t thinking about this succulent at all until yesterday, when a woman from the ward stopped by to deliver the Father’s Day gift to the eligible males of my household. Readers, it was not a succulent. It was a bag of Crumbl cookies with a little note that said, “We’d crumble without you.” Of course, neither my husband nor my son was around to accept their cookies. I had to accept them on their behalf and put them in a place where they would be safe from predators. They wound up very close to my succulent. And strangely, despite the fact that they neither cry nor scream, I am finding it very difficult to ignore them.

All of this just makes me wonder: Has anyone, in the history of Father’s Day, ever given a man a plant? Has anyone, in the history of anything, ever given a man a plant for any reason? My father likes plants, but I think he buys his own. I know there are men who like to garden and crap, just as there are women who enjoy that sort of thing, but I’ve never witnessed a man receiving a plant, even a succulent, in honor of his special Man Day. I mean, if I’m to believe what I see in the temple, the world was created by Elohim and Jehovah, both male. They invented plants. Doesn’t it seem extra appropriate that the sons of God receive plants on Father’s Day? I’m just asking questions.


  1. Thank you for a great Father’s Day post. I kill plants, too, and I hate receiving them as a gift. I prefer chocolate and cookies. Or even potato chips. (But please no pamphlets written by men telling me how to be a better woman.)

    My FIL really loves plants, and he once got a tree as a gift from a family member. But that’s the only time I can remember a man receiving a plant as a gift.

  2. Never have I been given a plant! Always chocolate.

  3. I received a pineapple quack last year for father’s day

  4. The sisters in our ward have gotten chocolates the last several years. They used to do plants. We haven’t done gifts for the men for several years, back when we did root beer floats a few years in a row. They made the floats for everyone, though, not just the men.

  5. For mother’s day I’ve received plants (seldom) cut flowers (often) chocolate, bookmarks, Desert Book Music compilations on CD, a pie eating social after church, a book once, darling cards my kids have made in Primary. In addition to the Sacrament themed meeting singing the virtues of motherhood. (I did like the one when my two oldest were part of the youth program talking about their mothers. But I would have liked it considerably less if I was childless)

    For father’s day my husband has received un-popped Microwave popcorn, Root beer floats if you want to stay at church longer than you already have, outlines of his children’s feet, and the year I was in nursery with my youngest we made giant foam ties the kids decorated with a photo of themselves. I think that’s all the “recognition” he’s gotten outside our home.

    While the gifts for mother’s day have been copious, harmless, and mostly disposable, at least there has been consistent recognition. Except this year when nothing happened at all. Father’s day has been mostly ignored in wards we have attended. I don’t think my husband even cares.

  6. I’m not sure what my current ward does for either of these events, since I’m new to the ward, and then COVID, so I’m not aware of anything happening for either event.

    I’m happily single, so Mother’s day gifts are always awkward when forced upon me, but we have received cut flowers and chocolates. My most recent previous ward did cookies for Mother’s day and brownies for father’s day- bagged so you could grab on the way out the door if you wanted, and skip the line if you didn’t want to be forced to eat Mother’s day/Father’s day treats because you weren’t a parent. Although not the original intent, there always ended up being enough for everyone in the ward to have some. I’ve never been offered a plant.

  7. nobody, really says:

    I’ve been in more than a handful of bishopric meetings now where we’ve discussed what should be given to the sisters on Mother’s Day. When the idea of a plant comes up, I now quote my wife. “Oh, great. Something else for me to kill.” Instead, we do a “lock-in”. Round up all the moms, kick them out of Primary and YW for the day, put them in the Relief Society room, give them cheese and strawberries and water, and just let them visit. The best luxury item we can give them is time without obligations.

    Fathers get ignored, and on purpose. Not every home has a father, so we shouldn’t make anyone feel like they are missing out. We’ve even been told by the stake presidency to “minimize” celebration of fathers. The comment was made, several years ago, that fathers would be just great if they’d stop being selfish with their time and do their home teaching, but there was no reason to celebrate a bunch of heathens who are only doing 22% of their obligations. I would note, however, that there was no effort made to get up in church and say “The Young Women wanted to hand out root beer to all the dads, but we’re not going to allow that because you all suck at home teaching. Do better next year, and we might rethink that policy.”

  8. sidebottom says:

    As a missionary the ward I was in passed out tiny pocketknives. I think I’ve still got mine.

  9. I don’t know what my current ward typically does because I got boundary-changed in recently, but this year, with everybody at home, they did videos. For Mothers Day the dads and kids shot footage and provided photos that somebody put together against a background of primary songs (started with a compilation of our kids singing in their various homes and faded into an official and fancier recording) and for Fathers Day the moms and kids did the same. Each of them lasted about five minutes. They were posted on our ward FB page. I thought it was kind of nice, though I appreciated that they were short. In the past I’ve gotten flowers and treats We’ve also had the YW and YM and a few elders quorum members take over primary so all the women could get together in the RS room, eat some finger food, and chat.

  10. [long and sustained and extremely appreciative applause]

  11. I have literally never heard off women receiving living plants on Mother’s Day. In my old ward it was cut flowers and in my current ward it is pie. Father’s Day is usually something small, but I don’t remember what it has been in years past, just that it’s not consistent.

    Is the plant thing a Utah thing?

  12. A few years ago ago, our ward
    served men bacon-wrapped tater tots on toothpicks in the cultural hall after the block. Never plants…

  13. We always got plants in my Southern States wards. I have also gotten the above mentioned CDs, cut carnations, chocolates, bookmarks, books etc.
    This year though, my favorite. We got a sign that the (am assuming here, young men or elders quorum) put in our yards that said Happy Mother’s Day. I actually liked that little token.

    This year, my husband made out. He got as assortment of treats with “dad or pop” in the name. Needless to say he was pleased wit his poptarts and Dad’s root beer.

    I agree though, I would rather have the cookies and the chocolate. I don’t need more things to take care of!

  14. As a Primary teacher, I’ve been on the end of trying to decide what to have the kids give to their parents. I’ve felt some guilt as a feminist for falling into gender stereotypes, but at some point I decided I don’t get paid enough to think too hard. So I do a flower craft for Mother’s Day, and a nautical craft (sharks, pirates, etc.) for Father’s Day.

    I personally like a sugar rush on Mother’s Day, but my mom is older and needs to watch what she eats and wants her cut flowers.

  15. Only slightly off topic. I don’t think I am alone in thinking you missed the best part of not attending church on Mothers Day: not having to sing “Love at Home.” The worst song in the hymnal! Many women don’t like it because it’s guilt inducing. My problem with it is that it’s so sickeningly sweet.

  16. Cynthia says:

    Not to put to fine a point on it, but I HATE Mother’s Day at church; I am perfectly fine with being a mother, but the talks at sacrament extolling the perfect mother are guilt-inducing. For the two hours afterwards (now one, in the future), we received flowers, then we switched to chocolate, and then they started putting all the women in the multipurpose room for the remaining time listening to a visiting teaching pep talk (guilt and boredom)and then the bishop talking about how important mothers are to Zion (ditto) for a long while. AFTER that, for the last ten minutes, we had finger foods (prepared by the RS presidency) or Sam’s Club cheesecake. It is something only the insipid or brain dead would appreciate.

  17. east of the mississippi says:

    Father want one thing on Father’s Day… to do whatever they want. The perfect Father’s Day gift, especially if you’re in a leadership calling, is to get the day off.

  18. HokieKate says:

    I’ve only attended Mother’s Day services once in the past five years, and that was with my mother in her ward, not at home with my children. Then she wanted to leave after Sacrament meeting and go shopping.
    This year the EQ brought me cookies for Mother’s Day and the RS brought my husband M&Ms for Father’s Day. I support the giving of foods.

    My favorite gifts from kids are those silly “interviews”. I absolutely love those.

  19. latam girl says:

    In a singles ward one year the women received a packet of seeds. Yup. Seeds. With all the terrible metaphors and whatever else they were trying to imply.

  20. I gave my brother-in-law a really nice succulent for his birthday last year.

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