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A Leacock Mother’s Day

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Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) was a Canadian economist and humorist who wrote several books. He is remembered today only as a humorist. His best work is probably Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, a hilarious satirical look at small-town Ontario. It is utterly brilliant. When I think of Mother’s Day, I often think of a particular story Leacock wrote to celebrate the day. I do not have a copy in my library but, by looking long and hard, was able to find it on Google. It’s a great Mother’s Day read, though I have to trust that the person who transcribed it did so accurately. Enjoy!

One year our family decided to have a special celebration of Mother’s Day, as a token of appreciation for all the sacrifices that Mother had made for us. After breakfast we had arranged, as a surprise, to hire a car and take her for a beautiful drive in the country. Mother was rarely able to have a treat like that, because she was busy in the house nearly all the time.

But on the very morning of the day, we changed the plan a little, because it occurred to Father that it would be even better to take Mother fishing. As the car was hired and paid for, we might as well use it to drive up into the hills where the streams are. As Father said, if you just go driving you have a sense of aimlessness, but if you are going to fish there is a definite purpose that heightens the enjoyment.

So we all felt it would be nicer for Mother to have a definite purpose; and anyway, Father had just got a new fishing rod the day before, which he said Mother could use if she wanted to; only Mother said she would much rather watch him fish than try to fish herself.

So we got her to make up a sandwich lunch in case we got hungry, though of course we were to come home again to a big festive dinner.

Well, when the car came to the door, it turned out that there wasn’t as much room in it as we had supposed, because we hadn’t reckoned on Father’s fishing gear and the lunch, and it was plain that we couldn’t all get in.

Father said not to mind him, that he could just as well stay home and put in the time working in the garden. He said that we were not to let the fact that he had not had a real holiday for three years stand in our way. He wanted us to go right ahead and not to mind him.

But of course we all felt that it would never do to let Father stay home. The two girls, Anna and Mary, would have stayed and gotten dinner, only it seemed such a pity to, on a lovely day like this, having their new hats. But they said that Mother had only to say the word and they’d gladly stay home and work. Will and I would have dropped out, but we wouldn’t have been any use in getting the dinner.

So in the end it was decided that Mother would stay home and just have a lovely restful day around the house, and get the dinner. Also it turned out to be just a bit raw out-of-doors, and Father said he would never forgive himself if he dragged Mother round the country and let her take a severe cold. He said it was our duty to let Mother get all the rest and quiet she could, after all she had done for all of us, and that young people seldom realize how much quiet means to people who are getting old. He could still stand the racket, but he was glad to shelter Mother from it.

Well, we had the loveliest day up among the hills, and Father caught such big fish that he felt sure that Mother couldn’t have landed them anyway, if she had been fishing for them. Will and I fished too, and the two girls met some young men friends along the stream, and so we all had a splendid time.

We sat down to a roast turkey dinner when we got back. Mother had to get up a good bit during the meal fetching things, but at the end Father said she simply mustn’t do it, that he wanted her to relax, and he got up and got the walnuts from the buffet himself.

The dinner was great fun, and when it was over all of us wanted to help clear the things up and wash the dishes, only Mother said that she would do it, and so we let her, because we wanted to humor her.

It was late when it was all over, and when we kissed Mother before going to bed, she said it had been the most wonderful day in her life. Funny that there were tears in her eyes.


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