Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember.
- Oscar Levant
On Mother's Day, you should know that mothers come in all shapes and sizes; ages and genders.
Yes, believe it or not, researchers at Hallmark cards say men receive 1 percent of the 144 million Mother's Day cards expected to be passed out today.
I know that because I am a veritable treasure trove of Mother's Day trivia thanks to the Hallmark public affairs and communications staff.
They sent me all this data last week because, I suspect, they didn't want to answer my first question: Do Mother's Day cards actually cost more than other greeting cards?
This has been a theory of mine for years.
I buy lots of greeting cards, and I swear it seems like the ones for our mothers all appear to cost more. (Anniversary cards for your wife seem a little high, too.)
It would make sense.
Rare is the child who would cheap out on his mother.
So I telephoned Hallmark where a nice fellow who answered the consumer help line said he didn't think Mother's Day cards were more expensive, but he would officially acknowledge my "complaint" and pass it along.
"No, no," I told him, "I'm not complaining. ... I'm just curious."
I asked him for "media relations," where they asked me for my phone and fax numbers, and my e-mail address, and promised to get back to me. They did.
About 30 minutes later eight pages of mommy minutiae popped out of the fax machine.
Now I know, for example, that consumers are expected to spend more than $132 million nationwide on cards today.
I know that women buy more Mother's Day cards than men (77 percent to 21 percent.) And I know that women buy more Mother's Day gifts than men (63 percent to 37 percent.)
But, I also know that men, on average, spend more per gift ($81 to $61).
I could tell you that 60 percent of us give Mother's Day cards.
Or that mothers get 42 percent of them. (Grandmothers, you see, get 14 percent; wives 9 percent; and daughters 5 percent. "Others" get 31 percent.)
I know, and now so do you, that 60 percent of us give Mother's Day cards, and on average there are 2.6 cards received per household.
The older the mother, the more likely she'll get a card. Forty-two percent of the cards go to women over 70.
Women under 30 get 1 percent of the cards.
Make no mistake, Mother's Day is big. Ninety-six percent of American households acknowledge the holiday in some form.
As for whether Mother's Day cards cost more, Hallmark admits that its average Mother's Day card costs $2.49.
Not too bad.
Oh, and one more thing. According to 1998 focus group interviews, mothers told researchers that it was important for them to hear whether or not they "did a good job" as mothers.
Today would be an excellent time to let them know they did.
Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 107, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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