On Mother’s Day: Its Significance, Where to Celebrate and Gift-giving Ideas

by Edwin Quinabo

The busiest day for restaurants and the second busiest day for florists is fast approaching. It’s Mother’s Day, this year, landing on Sunday May 14.

What to do to show your appreciation for your mother that day is the big question. Luckily Hawaii is a vibrant, bustling city with restaurants galore to choose from to the far west at Noe Italian in Oahu’s second city Kapolei to neighborhood restaurants in Honolulu like Feast in Manoa or far east of Oahu at the award-winning Roy’s in Hawaii Kai.

Mother’s Day is one of those rare occasions when locals enjoy “playing” tourists and head to Waikiki. ‘Alohailani Resort Waikiki Beach is hosting Mom’s & Mimosas Mother’s Day family brunch on May 14 at their newly renovated ballroom.

When was your last luau buffet and hula show? Bookings for Waikiki Luau Buffet with Rock-A-Hula Show are now available. How about illusions and comedy? Take a trip back in time to a London Salon and experience parlor magic at The Magical Mystery Show! at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel.  If local music suits your mom, the Hawaii Convention Center has a special Mother’s Day concert featuring Na Leo Pilimehana.

For mom’s hooked on Instagram, Meta (formerly Facebook) or other social media, the perfect backdrop for photos to get your fans and contacts outside of Hawaii envious is an ocean’s view of the famous Waikiki shoreline. How to get that photo shot?  Sojourn on a mini boat cruise for a late breakfast, sunset or sunset dinner cruise that includes a meal and entertainment. The cruise will have all your social media followers thinking, “Lucky you Live Hawaii.”

If you’re maxed out on the tourist adventure scene, did it, done it, all too many times – there’s always the more personable, quality time with mom at home. For the hyper busy family, finding relaxation enjoying a quiet conversation with mom at home is the perfect speed, perfect place for a perfect evening.

But remember, moms stay out of the kitchen on Mother’s Day. It’s a golden rule so start planning your catering and take out menu.

Ideas? Rated a near perfect 5 stars (4.5) with a large sampling of over 145 reviews on Yelp, J & S Lumpia Spot in Salt Lake has party trays for takeout or delivery. They have traditional and innovative lumpia recipes: meat and veggie (beef), Shanghai, pastele, banana and strawberry cheesecake lumpia, to name a few. What a smart business concept, right? A lumpia specialty establishment.

Keeping with the Filipino flavor theme, there is your favorite neighborhood Golden Coin Bake Shop for cascaron, puto, leche flan, bibingka, maja blanca, brazos de mercedes (whole roll), pan de sal, halo halo – all the desserts we love but can never replicate them at home. Yes, getting desserts that will have you smiling requires part science, part luck and trial and error. Leave it to the pros. Get take out desserts.

Speaking of smiles and jolly, Jollibee’s famous chicken and sweet spaghetti are potluck safe picks and guaranteed to please.

Mother’s day menu items are endless. What’s important is to get what mom wants, not what you want.

Rowena Guzman, Kalihi, plans to celebrate at home with her mother Lina and family at home. “We usually will order food to go. Jollibee chicken is a favorite of ours. Also, we love sushi and normally would order a sushi platter from Zippy’s in Pearl City and get assorted poke from Foodland. For our good luck noodles, we usually buy chow mein at a Chinese restaurant in Salt Lake Shopping Center. My mother will always insist on cooking one main dish. In the past she has prepared pinakbet, kare-kare, pork adobo, Filipino bistek. We never know ahead of time what she will decide to make, which is usually the main entrée,” Rowena said.

Candace Ulep, Waipahu, said she and her brother plan to treat their mom at Max’s Restaurant in Waipahu. “It’s my mom’s favorite place to get crispy pata. She also loves milkfish sisig. Those two are regular menu items we get, then we try different dishes each time besides those two. We’ll leave it up to mom to choose the entire menu,” Candace said.

For Lance Abad, Pearl City, preparing a Mother’s Day dinner will be easy for him being a cook. For our family we keep the menu simple.  “We buy prime rib or rib eye steak from Costco. Prime rib will take hours while rib eye steak is quick. But both are fairly easy to make. Also from Costco, we’ll pick up a dessert from there. I will do one or two appetizers this year, maybe calamari or lumpiang shanghai, or both. For our main starch, mash potatoes go well with prime rib or steak; and of course, we’ll have pancit,” Lance said.

Beyond finding a restaurant, thinking of entertainment, or catering-cooking for a home dinner celebration on Mother’s Day – like other significant days we observe, Mother’s Day carries deeper meaning to reflect on.

Motherhood never ends
Lance’s mother-in-law who he has been living with since his twenties passed away in January this year. As the first Mother’s Day for his wife without her mother around, Mother’s Day will be a piercing loss felt for the Abads. But coupled with their loss is an addition to their family to uplift their spirit. Lance’s daughter gave birth in March this year to a girl.

“My mother-in-law passed on. But our daughter has brought into the world her first child. And her daughter eventually will be a mother herself one day, God willing,” he said.

The beauty of motherhood is its perpetuity. It’s one half of the building block to humanity. Lance said his daughter Raquel told him she’s never experienced such joy and pure love after giving birth to Jamie. He said most mothers know what Raquel is feeling.

The glue that holds the family together
Candace, 23, isn’t thinking of motherhood just yet. She said, “My mother Bea means so many different, wonderful things to me. She is the first source of love that keeps giving, my rock along with my father. I admire how my mom juggles work and family life. She is the person my brother and I and my father turn to with our psychological and emotional baggage that need purging. She’s a great listener and imparts sound advice.

“She’s the glue that keeps all of us from drifting apart from each other. We know how that works unintentionally, how life’s responsibilities can have a way of taking over our time and sense of being. My mother grounds us. She gets us back to thinking of the things that matter. I think this is one of the most significant roles of motherhood,” Candace said.

Nurturer of faith
Rowena said she is thankful for her mom nurturing her relationship with God. “My mom Lina showed me how to live with God in my life, how Jesus loves me. She always says to me, ‘I love you more than words can express, imagine how much more God, who has perfect love, loves you.’”

She also will say to me, “It’s impossible for me to be with you every second in a day, but God can do that, remember that.” These two lines of spiritual wisdom, repeated by her in different words but with the same meaning over many years, Rowena says, have stuck with her and brought her comfort and strength at times when she’s been tested with challenges.

Mom also took on father role
Marc Nicolas, Valenzuela City, Philippines, said because his father is an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and has spent considerable time away, his mother also took on a fatherly role. “She’s not just our mom, but also our father. She became our father figure since our dad is an OFW. We barely had a father figure growing up so our mom took up that role. She was always there from our worst to best, from our small wins to big losses. She supported us all the way. Not only is she our mother, but she is also our friend. She humbled herself so we could rise. She crawled so we could walk. She prioritized us over anything else,” Marc said.

On his mother helping to shape him as the person he is today, Marc said, “She taught us how to humble ourselves not by word, but by action. She told us small wins are still wins. She also told us no matter how hard the situation is, there will always be a way.”

My children, the joys of my life
Marline Martin, Ewa, raised two children Liz and Paul. “Mother’s Day is like my birthday when my family showers me with love and appreciation, but it’s also uniquely special because their gratitude is specific to the role of me as a mother.

“Not only am I overjoyed by my children expressing their love on Mother’s Day, but my husband Tomas’s appreciation also means a lot. Receiving flowers from him on Mother’s Day is different from Valentine’s Day. Flowers from Tomas on Mother’s Day is a symbol to me saying that I have been a good mother to our children. This warms my heart.

“Every day I’m thankful for my children. They’re the joys of my life. Each Mother’s Day, I have something new to be thankful for as new events, new milestones happen in my children’s lives. So, in this regard, Mother’s Day is different as I reflect on what’s current in my children’s lives,” Marline said.

Picking out a gift
The never-ending stream of gifts mothers have bestowed onto their children is something that comes to mind when choosing a gift for Mother’s Day, which makes this task seemingly impossible. Here are a few suggestions to consider.

Mother’s Day gift-giving ideas:

By now you’re already aware of a dream destination your mother has always had but never got around to making it happen. Travel & Leisure recommends travel gift cards for Mother’s Day.  

A travel-related gift card is probably the closest you’ll get to giving the actual gift of travel to your mom and dad (without booking their flights or hotels for them.) You’ll want to make sure to select a gift card you know they will be able to use. 

A few gift cards recommended by Travel & Leisure: airline gift card (find out which airlines your mother normally chooses), hotel gift card, Airbnb gift card, cruise gift card.

If your mom and dad are retired and at liberty to travel anytime, coordinate with your dad a vacation time that works best. Skip the travel gift card and go ahead and buy the airline tickets.

If your mother is an animal lover and physically strong enough, is retired, and struggles with empty nest syndrome, adopting a dog or cat for her could spark renewed vigor in her daily life.

Adopting a pet has been found to help with loneliness that many seniors experience, especially seniors who live alone. For mothers who are widows, a pet is a loving companion she can care for and will appreciate. You know your mother well enough if a pet is something she will love and embrace. But it’s absolutely important to know that a pet is something she would want because it’s unfair for a dog or cat to be adopted then returned to an animal shelter. Pets have feelings, too.

Pictures capture time and will always have a story behind it for your mom to appreciate and share with for years. If you live in a house with family pictures hung on walls or crowd tabletops in the living room and her bedroom, you already know your mother will love to have a professional to capture this moment in time with your family.

Purchase a session with a professional photographer who travels on-site (better than one who only does studio work) so your mother can choose where to have a photo shoot like a beach that the family frequents or special location your mother holds dear to her.

For kamaaina living on the mainland or internationally, you still have time to book a flight to surprise your mother with your presence on Mother’s Day.

If your other siblings also moved away, all of you returning home for Mother’s Day for a family reunion would be double-, triple the joy.

For some cultures and families, money may be too impersonal, even offensive as a gift for Mother’s Day. You know your culture and your mom if this would be the case. If you know your mother would love receiving money to use as she pleases, it’s a gift to consider. It doesn’t have to be boring and placed in an envelope. Be creative with presentation. Remember the tooth fairy as a child. That pillow trick of placing cash under it with a brightly colored bow will be something she’ll always remember when she discovers it. Stage the scene if you can so you too can be present when she fortuitously lifts that pillow.

Some families can work on having better communication, sons with their mothers versus daughters, more so. Assuming that your mother already knows how thankful you are is not the same as her hearing it.

Perhaps there is something specific – small or grand – that you never thanked your mother for and never expressed to her what that one incident may have meant to you personally.  Life is short and Mother’s Day (men in specific heed this advice,) is the perfect time to be expressive with your mom without feeling uncomfortably and overly sentimental. Be smooth, but not awkward, and say what should be said, whatever it might be you’ve held back from saying.

Mother’s Day is certainly one of the most momentous days we observe in the year.

American author Jill Churchill said, “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” Mothers and children can reflect on a few of those magical millions of moments on Mother’s Day.

Enjoy the moment. Happy Mother’s Day!

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