THE PARENTAL HOLIDAYS... are sometimes portrayed in a rather straightforward manner. Pick up your parent, take them to brunch, ask them if they had a fine time, and part ways. But that's not all there is to Mother's Day, nor Father's Day, of course, though the eating-nice-food bit is always welcome. Many children, both of the younger and over-21 variety, want to not only connect with a parent during their spring holiday but spend some true time reminiscing, sharing private jokes, and reflecting upon days to come. Gooey? Maybe. Greeting-card-ish? Perhaps. But time is a gift that can't be returned -- it is always the right size, the right material, the right everything. So building out from the Mother's Day meal to a fuller day together seems the wiser, capitalize-upon-the-clock course, and making the fuller day about something pleasant is the solution. Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek can absolutely be defined as "something pleasant," though describe three-plus acres of well-tended gardens, gardens that put a special spotlight on succulents, is an understatement. But picture yourself, with your mom, on Sunday, May 10, strolling the grounds and talking about long-ago times, and picture your mom getting in for free.
YEP, MOTHERS PAY NO ADMISSION... to the Ruth Bancroft on Mother's Day, and kids under 12 can get in for zero dollars as well. A nice bonus? You can bring in your own brunch -- er, picnic -- to enjoy (lest you're concerned about missing that all-important, oh-so-traditional holiday meal. Did you and mommy eat ham sandwiches together every day when you got home from kindergarten? Maybe pack those, and some other memory-inspiring edibles. You've got six full hours to nosh, stroll, look at plants, and hold your mom's hand. When's the last time you held hands with her? If any day is the day to start, it is Mother's Day, and the place to do it is in a garden that's in marvelous May bloom.