An American Mother’s Day, 2017.

When I was growing up, every year on Christmas Eve we got to open a present. Every year, we pretended it was a surprise. But every year it was pajamas. They matched.

We’ve continued this tradition although it’s been handed down to the next generation. Pajamas now are not for Mom’s kids (that would be my generation), but for Nana’s grandchildren.

Since our tradition passed to the next generation, each year has a theme. When I look back on the pajamas (many of them outgrown by my teenager) it’s like an evolving time capsule. Over the years they have been funny (The Incredibles), retro and sentimental (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) and meaningful (The Acorn Doesn’t Fall From the Tree).

In 2016, they were patriotic. And kind of sad. The kids got red, white and blue pajamas, the bottom rather elf-like with red and white stripes, and the tops with a graphic depicting America, a little off-kilter.

And with them came a poem.

Last night, the eve of Mother’s Day in America in 2017, my mom sent the poem to me.

“I wrote this as a high school junior and it was included in a Missouri contest of juried creative writing, which is odd because I never studied that. News-writing was my only high school English class in writing. World War II had ended ten years before, and of course we had been raised to be most patriotic.“

So, from Kansas City, sometime around 1953, to us, today.

Her dad served in the Navy, part of the quiet, but Greatest Generation. She was shaped by the civic responsibility and sacrifice of growing up in World War II America.

What was it they fought for? What did the mothers sacrifice for?

This Mother’s Day, in addition to the flowers and the spa gift certificates, sign a petition. Write a letter to your Congressperson. Boycott something to make a difference. Plan to March. Demand accountability from your your elected representatives. Circle the next election on your calendar. Have a discussion about something that matters with your own child.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. American.