Whilst the tradition for giving gifts on Mothers Day was well established in the United States (1908) it didn’t begin in Australia until 1924.The following is an excerpt from the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Mother’s Day, Sunday 9th May 1954
A Gift For Mother
By A Staff Reporter.
A little old lady living in Petersham looks on Mothers Day with something approaching possessiveness.
She visited the “Sun Herald” to ask, “Do you know who started the idea of gifts for mothers day?”
She answered her own question : “Little me.” she said stabbing her chest with a forefinger.
“Little Me” is Mrs. J. Heyden. She could be any thing from 70 to 75. In fact she is 86 and very proud that few people realise it.
Mrs. Heyden thinks the stores that sell Mothers Day gifts are not being fair to her about Mothers Day.
Not that she minds the “way it has become commercialised like a second Christmas.”
“But they say the gift-for-mother idea was their own.” she said.
“It wasn’t; it was mine.” Mothers Day when most of us were children meant
the wearing of a white flower – a tribute thought up by a schoolteacher in Canada.
Now it means installing mother as Queen for a day – gifts, and the family doing the chores so that the
O.C. household can put her feet up and lap up family worship for one day of the year.
Who fixed it that way? why, Mrs. Heyden, she says.
It all started 30 years ago.
“I was on the committee of the Home for Destitute Women and Children in Strathfield,” Mrs. Heyden recalls.
“One of the patients was transferred to the Newington State Home, and I used to visit her.
“That was when I decided something should be done to brighten the lonely lives of the mothers there. I organised gifts for them on Mother’s Day.
“Even a little remembrance like hairpins (they wouldn’t be much good these days, would they?), a hankie or a cake of soap meant a lot to people like that.
‘Then I thought, why stop at them?
“So I appealed to the public through the newspapers to remember the mothers of Sydney.
“The gifts started to pour in.
“The late Alderman Dyer, who was Mayor of Leichhardt, used to drive me around to the old mothers of the district with my gift parcels.
“For seven years in succession the appeal through the newspapers made sure that hundreds of mothers who would otherwise have been forgotten received a Mothers Day gift. It was wonderful. Today, of course, a gift for mother is just the natural thing.”
Mrs. Heyden has three children of her own-a son and two daughters, all married. And, of course, with a mother like Mrs. Heyden they set an example on the second Sunday in each May.