Mother's Day
Once upon a time there was a mid-Lent festival called Mothering Sunday. On Mothering Sunday, you returned to your mother church for mass, and, if your parents were anywhere near its vicinity, popped in on them as well. It was one of those examples of the church working for the good of hoi polloi: it meant that, once a year at least, the servants got the opportunity to see their families, and, of course, things like graveyards got a good seeing to.

Along with most of the other Christian festivals, Mothering Sunday has long since been subsumed by the great god of Shopping. Mother's Day is another marketing opportunity in those drear days between Santa and the Easter Bunny.

So: what are you going to get for the old girl this time around? The time has passed when a nice bunch of daffs from the garden and a big kiss would do. The shopping conspirators are bombarding us with the most tasteful of advertising campaigns. Superdrug reckon you'll be wanting to make a bit of a stink with a bottle of Charlie (yes, they still sell it) slashed to pounds 5.95 from pounds 8.95. Good idea: take her back to the Seventies and remind her how much older she is now. Debenhams, home of the blazer and pussycat bow, is publicising a very special offer: free wrapping paper with every gift. Now that's something to get you salivating.

The card makers, as always, have pulled their fingers out. "You're loved so much because you're you", says the giant-sized rosebud-covered monstrosity at pounds 1.89 in my local newsagents. "Because you're so special" quack some cute ducklings. Now I don't want to get narky, but how come there aren't any that say "because you feed us baked beans every night" or "because I only see you at weekends"?

The Post Office, has got in on the act as well. Spotting an extra opportunity to steal directly from the hands of babes, they have plastered bus stops with posters of an infant in a pushchair by a pillar box. "No matter how close you are, mum's card is more special by post" is the slogan. Absolutely. Especially if it turns up on Monday because of no Sunday deliveries.

This year's Ivana Trump award for good taste, though, goes to Interflora. A special Mother's Day arrangement costs "about pounds 27.50", though the more miserly among you can opt for a Harlequin basket at pounds 16.95 or a bouquet at pounds 19,95. But you can order on a special 24-hour freephone (0500 43 43 43), so you're getting top value. And the slogan with which they woo your best familial instincts? "Your mum is expecting". Ahh. Sweet.

Serena Mackesy