December 8th is Mother's Day in Panama, and it's a big deal here. Unlike in the states where Mother's Day is always on a Sunday, in Panama Mother's Day is a National Holiday. Businesses are closed and entire communities get involved in creating a tribute to all mothers in the country. There are public programs in local parks and town centers where town officials, local politicians, and community groups give speeches, presentations, and donated gifts to mothers in the community. Cultural groups and students from local schools often provide either oratory, musical or dance performances, and sometimes food or flowers are distributed to the mothers in the assembled crowds. It's a nice way to make women who are also mothers feel special and appreciated.
Last night I had to opportunity to attend a Mother's Day Celebration in the little town of Caldera. It was a humble but uplifting event. It was impressive to see how the school aged boys of the town were utilized as greeters, ushers and servers. Following the program they were thanked for their assistance. One of the youths responded by saying how pleased he and the others were at being able to be of service. He expressed their ongoing willingness to contribute to the community.
It never ceases to amaze me how Panamanians of all ages can spontaneously provide gracious, positive, and constructive commentary regarding any topic or content, if asked. I see it over and over again in television "man on the street" interviews and in public gatherings. I think it must be something inculcated in their education and upbringing. From the humblest of citizens to the most prestigious, it's something they seem to do instinctively.
The Mother's Day celebration in Boquete is yet to occur. It will be a larger and more expensive program with bigger and better gifts for some fortunate mothers. Usually stoves, refrigerators, and many smaller household items are donated by local merchants. I've never understood how the gifting is organized, but somehow the community is aware of who the local mothers are and they are provided with tickets which later are used for drawings after the performances. I am hoping to see some of my neighbors win valuable prices this year.