Moms, Knitted Sweaters, Fruit Cocktail and Woodrow Wilson
Updated: Sep 3, 2019
I was surprised to learn that the sweaters Fred McFeely Rogers wore on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” were knitted by his mother. While it may not be that we can boast we wore the hand-knitted sweaters that our moms made for us to sport on the PBS classic we created, most likely we all have memories of our moms of one kind or another that take us back to a simpler time. We remember fondly the days when freshly baked chocolate chip cookies were waiting for our dirty little fingers to snitch a bite of sweets before supper. It’s those thoughts from yesteryear that make Mother’s Day worth the trip to the flower shop in 50 countries around the world. *
The Bloomin’ Boomers generation finds many women now sandwiched between caring for their aging mothers (and fathers) and combing through recipe books to find just the right goodie to bake for their own children and grandchildren. Wearing both hats is not an easy task — just ask anyone you know who is trying to be “everything to everybody.” But successful multitasking is a difficult skill that seems to built into the very DNA of most women. Somehow we always manage to rise to the occasion of sharing the love.
Each second Sunday in May, moms across the nation wait for calls, cards or whatever signs they may receive to indicate their children know they did their best. According to stats from the National Retail Federation (NRF), American moms are, indeed, being reminded appreciated in grand style! NRF estimates that in 2018, US consumers will spend $23.1 billion on cards (77%), flowers (69%) and dining (55%). Jewelry tops the list, with a projected $4.6 billion being shelled out for bling.
And she’s worth every penny. Why? Because the never-ending jobs that moms perform at home are worth $67,619/year in a professional workplace, as estimated by Insure.com (2017).
Mothers have certainly come a long way since spring celebrations honored Rhea, the Mother of the Gods, in ancient Greece. In England during the 1600s, Mothering Sunday took place during the Lenten fast. Servants would go home during a custom known as “going a-mothering,” taking simnel-cake (Latin for “fine” flour) to their mothers. In the US, early Mother’s Day activity was usually recognized by women’s peace groups and would revolve around mothers whose sons had served or died during the American Civil War.
Ann Jarvis, in 1868, created “Mother’s Friendship Day” in order to reunite families divided during the war. Suffragette and “Battle Hymn of the Republic” writer, Julia Ward Howe, first suggested (1872) an annual day when mothers could rally for peace. She then began holding yearly Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, but it wasn’t until President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill declaring Mother’s Day to be a national holiday in 1914, that the occasion finally became officially recognized.
Both my mother and my mother-in-law are gone now, but I have their traditions in my back pocket, and their recipes in my binders. My twin sons, Chris and Travis, and their wives have beautiful children of their own that I’m allowed to spoil rotten, and I’ve gained a wonderful bonus-daughter, Kara, by way of our blended family.
The circle of life goes on.
I’m pretty certain my kids are glad I can’t knit sweaters, but rarely do I see them pass up a kitchen accomplishment. I’m baking my mom’s recipe this year, Fruit Cocktail Cake. Even the name makes me smile—not very often do today’s vegan-inspired, cholesterol-restricted, anti high fructose corn syrup recipes call for fruit cocktail.
But I’m throwing caution to the wind in honor of Mrs. Rogers, Woodrow Wilson, my mom and moms everywhere for the greater cause.
So if you hear a loud noise on Mother’s Day, don’t worry. It’s just my arteries slamming shut… Mom’s cake was a win!
Happy Mother’s Day to all!
Fruit Cocktail Cake (found in my mother’s recipe box)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 can Fruit Cocktail, drained (reserve juice)
1 cup brown sugar (divided)
1 cup Angel Flake Coconut (divided)
Place all ingredients in bowl except Fruit Cocktail. (Add the juice when mixing, but don’t add the fruit until the cake has been mixed; then fold in) Place mixture in greased 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle ½ cup brown sugar and ½ cup Angel Flake Coconut over cake mixture. Bake 1 hour at 300º.
½ cup Carnation Evaporated Milk
¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter
Boil 2 minutes and remove from heat. Add remaining ½ cup Angel Flake Coconut and ½ cup pecans. Spread over cake while it’s still hot.
For the Hand That Rocks the Cradle is the Hand That Rules the World
Woman, how divine your mission, Here upon our natal sod; Keep – oh, keep the young heart open Always to the breath of God! All true trophies of the ages Are from mother-love impearled, For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.
William Ross Wallace; 1865
* Not all countries celebrate Mother's Day
on the same day.