Guest Opinion: The trouble with Hallmark Holidays

MONICA CHAN / AGGIE
MONICA CHAN / AGGIE

In years past, when Hallmark holidays like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, (Cat Day, Siblings Day, National Pretzel Day) would roll around, I might think of my friends who had recently broken up with a significant other or who had lost a parent. I would imagine that the day must be hard for them. Now I’m not imagining it — I’m living it. And it is really, really hard.

My mom died this past summer after suffering from mental illnesses. Last year’s Mother’s Day was one of the first times she was able to come visit me in Davis. So it’ll be tough knowing that she won’t be around for any more Mother’s Days after that last one.

A lot of holidays have been hard: Thanksgiving, Christmas, her birthday, my birthday. But everytime I walk into a Target or a CVS, this specific Hallmark holiday rubs it in my face the most that I don’t have a mom anymore. Not to mention the Snapchat filters and the assortment of Facebook and Instagram reminders that will inevitably come. Plus, a very cheesy looking movie called Mother’s Day with Jennifer Aniston and Julia Roberts in a weird orange wig was just released.

My point here is not to rant excessively (although I could if you ask me to!). If you have a mom who ultimately supports and cares about you, who you maybe sometimes fight with, but love at the end of  the day, Mother’s Day is a great time to celebrate her and what she’s helped you accomplish. Calling your mom, making a Mother’s Day card or going out to breakfast is a way to show your love. But we shouldn’t really have to wait for a special day to appreciate our moms. Some say we should even disown the holiday. Appreciating someone who loves and cares for you should happen all the time.

If you’ve lost a parent, if you didn’t grow up in a nuclear American family, if you’re estranged from your children or if you don’t have parents that support you, days like these can be especially painful. There’s no one way to avoid the pain, but there might be a few things you can do to help yourself. You can still celebrate the person that you lost in your own way — a post on your choice of social media, planting a flower for them, writing a letter. You can acknowledge how another person in your life has helped fill the role of a mother or a father. That hole is still going to be in your heart no matter what, but acknowledging that fact can be helpful.

And if you just want to sit in your room alone and cry or watch Netflix all day, that’s okay too. Do what you need to do to get through this day that our culture is shoving down our throats despite the many complicated, sad feelings a lot of us get from them.

For those of you who know you have a friend that upcoming holidays will be hard for, it might be nice to let them know you care about them. Sometimes it’s difficult for people who are grieving to reach out to others. But just sending a text to someone you know that may be dreading an upcoming holiday or going through hard times can be a great way to send support. And if you’re grieving, know that your friends and lots of people around you will be there to listen.

If you’re dreading this Hallmark holiday and you’ve been avoiding all your favorite stores because you don’t want to be inundated with demands that you appreciate your mom, know that you’re not alone. Soon this day will pass like all others.

If you’re in need of help, you can also reach out to someone on campus. CAPS is a great resource, and there are counselors on call at the Student Health and Wellness Center Urgent Care.

Melissa Dittrich is the New Media Manager of The Aggie. Go ask her to see that Jennifer Aniston Mother’s Day movie with you over email at medittrich@ucdavis.edu or on Twitter @melissemily.