An email I’d never seen, but made me laugh…

The Stranger 

A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on. 

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger… he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn’t seem to mind. 

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.) 

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home – not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our long time visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush.


My Dad didn’t permit the liberal use of alcohol but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!)
about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.. 

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked… And NEVER asked to leave. 

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents’ den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. 

(Note: This should be required reading for every household!)
His name?…. 
We just call him ‘TV.’ 

He has a wife now….we call her ‘Computer.’ 

Their first child is “Cell Phone”. 

Second child “I Pod “.


Revival of Common Courtesy ~ Thank You Notes

Emily Post has an entire chapter dedicated towards the art of communication and correspondence. There are some steadfast rules for common courtesy though and I will try to highlight those here.

Despite our busy lives, we should never omit graciousness from them.

Dinner Party
If you are the guest of honor
Appreciated by the host, but unnecessary if you thanked them when leaving
Overnight Visits
Always – except family and close friends whom you see often. You can call them instead.
It is always appropriate to send a note in addition to verbal thanks.
Anniversary, and
Christmas Gifts
Always – except family and close friends whom you see often. You can call them instead.
It is always okay to send a note in addition to verbal thanks.
Shower Gifts
If the gift giver was not in attendance
Many like to send a written thank you in addition of the verbal thank you
Gifts to the Ill
As soon as the patient feels well enough
Send thank you notes to all hand written notes of condolence
All personal messages need to be acknowledged
Form letters from firms need not to be acknowledged
Wedding Gifts
ALWAYS even if the giver was in attendance
Thank you gift that arrives after the event
Should be acknowledged so that the giver knows the gift arrived safely

I have a few great resources to leave you with today.
1) The Art of Thank you:Crafting Notes of Gratitutde by Connie Leas who believes, “Writing a thank-you note is a small but gracious way to repay kindness with kindness…”
2) Personal Notes: How to Write from the Heart for Any Occasion by Sandra E. Lamb who believes, “What’s so often missing from our lives today is the richness of shared humanity, those moments when we feel really connected to other human beings…”
3) The Little Red Writing Book This is an amazing book that covers so many topics regarding writing in general. Page 81 starts the chapter about choosing an appropriate tone that I felt helped tremendously.
4) The Thank You Book For Kids by Ali Lauren Spizman, an amazing book written by a 14 year old. Contains hundreds of fun and creative suggestions for writing memorable thank-you notes.

Revival of Common Courtesy ~ Every Day Manners

“The cardinal principle of etiquette is thoughtfulness, and the guiding rule of thoughtfulness is the Golden Rule. If you always do unto others as you would have done unto you, it is likely that you will never offend, bore or intrude, and that your actions will be courteous and indeed thoughtful.” ~Emily Post

“Parents who insist that their children practice courtesy and good habits at home are doing them a great service, for these habits then become lifelong and the natural way to do things. It is then unlikely that they will ever embarrass themselves socially or in business, for their unconscious actions will reflect a well mannered person.” ~Emily Post

Need I say more? Evidently yes based on what I see in everyday life. Just this past weekend I observed at least a dozen occasions where this was NOT being practiced. When I was young I was taught to say please, thank you, I’m sorry, excuse me and a variety of other niceties that tend to make life more pleasant as well as show respect for my elders.

Though the reasons for many things has changed, the act of doing them has not. For example, in Victorian days a man escorting a woman on the street would walk on the street or curb side of the woman to keep her from being splashed by mud. These days, a man still does it, but now more for safety.

Social amenities are still in fashion despite women not being the frail creatures once thought. I know feminists everywhere will hate me, but I LIKE when my husband opens the door to a building or even our own car for me, stands when I leave the table at a nice restaurant, takes his hat off indoors or walks on the street side. After all these years we have developed an instinct for being courteous to each other. Our children were taught the same.

As a society we have wandered away from many day to day courtesies. We as parents have the responsibility to create the adults of tomorrow and that training begins at home. That is pure fact. I recently overheard a couple of moms out having lunch complaining about how their kids were not learning manners at school or in daycare. HELLO? I truly blame this on the parents. It is not up to the schools or daycare to teach the children manners. Many common courtesies are no longer practiced by many families and/or enforced by parents, but we as parents have the responsibility to make time in our lives to do just that; teach manners to our children, expect a certain level of courtesy from our children and adjust the bad habits before they get out of hand.

One of the examples of the need for everyday manners is on public transportation. Awhile back I was on a subway when a young mother carrying a baby got on as did an elderly gentleman with a cane. The car was full and not one man or teenager got up and offered their seat to either of them. I was embarrassed for us as a society!

There are some personal habits that should be addressed, but based on today’s casual acceptance I will only mention and then leave the interpretation to the reader: men removing hats indoors, slouching/posture in general, elbows on the table while eating, chewing with your mouth closed, belching/burping in public, women in dresses sitting in a ladylike manner, disposing of your gum appropriately, smoking in public, being a good neighbor, personal space/crowding and the list goes on and on.

I have seen many well behaved children and truly appreciate the effort their parents put into their training. I just get so disappointed that so many other parents are readily accepting less than acceptable in their lives as well as their children’s. The ME generation does NOT have to be here to stay. Hubby and I went out for a nice leisurely afternoon lunch today at a little restaurant we like to frequent. It is very quaint and scenic. Halfway through our lunch a young family came in (the kids were about 2 and 5). Mom and dad sat at the bar and ordered a drink leaving the kids to wander. HELLO?? The 2 year old wanted something the 5 year old had and when she didn’t get it started a tantrum that the parents were ignoring and the rest of us were enduring. NO ONE said anything! I was beside myself. Normally I would have been pissed, but not said anything. Today was not normal – I had a splitting headache and was just beginning to relax when this all occurred. I calmly walked over to the parents and asked if they wouldn’t mind taking the little girl outside to calm her down. They were quite insulted by MY nerve as they put it. I told them I was insulted by their nerve. They were clueless!! I actually had to spell it out for them that while everyone was trying to endure their little girl’s tantrum, it was not our responsibility to do so. We were all out spending our hard earned money on a relaxing day which did not include providing daycare for them as their children ran around unsupervised.

While there are even more situations we could address because our entire life is full of them (strangers, prejudice, those with handicaps, unexpected visitors, hospitals, church services, etc… the ultimate rule of thumb is and always will be the Golden Rule for ALL situations.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

How were you taught everyday manners?
How should manners be introduced in everyday life?
At what point do you insist on good manners from children?

The Revival of Common Courtesy ~ Mealtime Manners

This sounds like it should be a short topic right?   WRONG!
“We shouldn’t save our best manners for the outside world anyway-
surely the people with whom we live deserve our best efforts!
~Emily Post
Mealtime manners can help you in so many facets of your life. When I think of mealtime manners, I actually laugh out loud as I recall the scene from Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts needs to learn what all that cutlery is for. Now we don’t need all that cutlery for everyday meals, but we do need to know what it is for and when to use it as well as a plethora of other manners.

The family dinner is the opportunity for children to learn the basics of good manners and not only their table manners, but the importance of courtesy toward one another as well as how to carry on a polite conversation.

Many of you can remember your own mother telling you to chew with your mouth closed, not talk with your mouth full, use your napkin, don’t teeter on your chair, sit up straight , don’t put you elbows on the table, etc…

Your napkin should be place in your lap as soon as you are seated unless it is a formal event and then you take your cue from the hostess. Do not tuck it into your collar, shirt, belt, etc… The napkin is supposed to be placed to the left side of your setting if your leave the table. At a dinner party the hostess will place her napkin on the table to signal that the meal is over.

It is appropriate to reach for anything within your ‘simple’ reach, but not if your reach extends over your neighbor or the other side of the table. ‘Would you please pass’ is the best phrase to use for whatever you need.

As for the cutlery – The rule is always the same, use the implement for each course that is furthest from the plate. The only time this is not the case is if the table is incorrectly set.

Many families have resorted to “do it yourself” dinners and/or eating on the run or in front of the television ~ This is Unfortunate! How will your children learn if this is allowed? When my niece was here, I asked her to set the table one night I was distraught at what I saw when she was finished. Our kitchens are classrooms for the family and setting our children off on the right foot through life.

How do you bring your family to the dining room table for a family meal?


Click on the picture to make it larger!

Does this describe your life at any point in time? Be honest. I know we have all felt like we were at the end of our rope at one time or another. What do you do to “recover” from those feelings?

I try to stay positive at all times, but even an optimist has their moments. I remember one night when hubby and I were out throwing back sipping a few drinks with friends and hubby was going on about some silly thing and I pointed out the positive part while trying to overshadow the bad. Now hubby all in good nature turned to me, smiled and said, “you know you can be a real bitch sometimes”, then he laughed and kissed me. My point is that life isn’t all wine and roses and sometimes too upbeat can be just as annoying as always pessimistic so it really is okay to feel like this cartoon every now and then, just don’t linger there.

Instead you need to make these – they’ll make you smile!

4 ounces Orange Juice
1 jigger Tequila Rose
4 ounces 7 up

  • Blend orange Juice and tequila rose together until well mixed.
  • Add 7up.
  • Enjoy.
  • Next time I’m going to add some rum too!

Can We Motivate Others to Be Kind and Caring by being that way first?

I originally posted this at 3 Sides of Crazy October 2008, but I find it necessary to repeat more and more as time moves forward.
Have you ever noticed that many people tend to save their best manners for when there is company or are they are in the company of strangers? Have you noticed how the relationships that matter the most in their lives are manner free so to speak? Is this true of your life? Our families and close friends are some of the most important relationships and the longest and most enduring, don’t these people deserve our very best?
I recently overheard a young mother complaining that her child was not learning manners in school. Hello? Manners should be taught by parents AT HOME and begin at a very early age. There is nothing wrong with demanding our own children learn how to say please, thank you, take turns, share and be respectful of their elders in their home as well as out in the world around them. In fact, the fate of our society may well depend on it. Learning it at home first will hopefully extend into their everyday world and future business life. Children crave discipline and direction. Offer it up to them.

Some of the major categories that should be addressed while they are young are the basic please, thank you and table manners, but don’t stop there. They should be taught about privacy, and how to answer the phone and the door properly. Privacy is a two way street. Your children crave it as much as you do. As long as the lines of communication are open and there is an element of trust between you and your child this should not be an issue. Left unattended children are naturally nosy and will snoop, eavesdrop and tattletale creating even bigger issues. Learning how to greet people properly at a young age will help them to overcome shyness and social settings with strangers. Shyness is not an acceptable excuse for the lack of politeness.

No matter the fashion fad, being clean and neat shows your children to respect their own bodies and ultimately they will realize that neat, clean and polite convey a self esteem and self confidence that moves with them through their life. Giving in and letting them ‘do it’ because all the other kids are only brings their self-esteem down and creates a herd animal mentality. Now I know this makes me sound as old as my grandmother, but I do believe this whole heartedly.

All of these build to teaching older children to become young adults that learn to entertain one or more friends, date and plan events for a group. They need to learn how to make an invitation, how to RSVP and when a hostess gift is called for. They need to understand what you expect in your home so that they can not only abide by it, but learn to appreciate and live it. One day they will have their own homes and children and you would like to think that you helped give them a head start on making that life a bit easier.

In today’s world we no longer have the ‘traditional’ family with 2.2 kids and a stay at home mom. So you do need to tailor all of this around your own family life. whether it has stepparents, extended family, grown kids who have moved home, etc… It is NOT written anywhere that you must be a soccer mom gone from home 5 nights a week where no one sits down to dinner together and offers up conversation and manners. Have a family night, dinner night, game night or some such. Offer up your very best to those you love.


The Revival of Common Courtesy was something I began over at 3 Sides of Crazy a couple of years ago mainly because of a rude driver.  Unfortunately I allowed it to fall by the wayside in all the confusion of life, but lately feel like the revival needs reviving. We have all been feeling the stresses of everyday life lately and with the holidays approaching I think we need to remember what’s important in our lives.  To do that we have to put the people in our lives first.  Everything else does need to be done, but it is small stuff by comparison.  I get Dear ABBY sent to me in email everyday.  Most days I scan and delete, but this one struck a nerve with me.
Recently I have noticed an influx of people on cell phones in restaurants in particular and with all the bluetooths and ear pieces these people appear to be talking to themselves for all intents and purposes.  I was particularly annoyed with a table across the way where 2 gentlemen were having conversation, but not with each other.  They were both on their phones.  My uncle asked me what really bothered me since they would be talking to each other anyway.
Have you ever noticed in a restaurant that you hear people, but your not really listening and it’s okay as long as they are not yelling or screaming.  It is just a normal “flow” of conversation so it is background noise?  I hadn’t really given it much thought until this particular day.  One guy was obviously talking to his wife about the kids and some discipline issues in a normal tone and the other guy was talking to an employee and loudly barking orders – NOT the normal flow of a conversation hence it was disruptive.  Their food came and they ate, but also took more phone calls.  I don’t think they said a word to each other, just their phones so it was quite disjointed and not the typical conversational “background noise”.
If I go to a restaurant and spend hard earned money for a meal I want to enjoy it.  Not one of us is so important that we have to have a bluetooth hanging from our ear all the time and take every call that comes in. And before you say it might be my kids, I already know that, but teaching our kids that it is NOT all right to interrupt is our job and that includes being out with hubby or friends.   My kids would text a 911 and know that the house better be on fire or something similar in order for it to be considered an emergency.  Otherwise, it will wait until I get home.  Personally I vote for a NO CELL PHONE section in a restaurant.
So I offer you this Dear Abby and will let you draw your own conclusions.
DEAR ABBY: When I am out with my friends, they can’t keep their hands and eyes off their cell phones. They sit there and text whatever guy they’re involved with, and I feel like they would rather be with anyone else but me.  I have talked to them about it, but they say I “don’t understand” because I have never been in a relationship. Abby, I’m not jealous because they have guys to talk to. I am hurt that my friends think cyber communication is more important than spending time with friends. What do you think? — TEXTED OUT IN TEXAS

DEAR TEXTED OUT: I’m glad you asked. It is rude for people to behave the way you have described. Good manners dictate that people give their undivided attention to those they are with. To do otherwise sends the signal that their present company is less important.


This story came across my email again recently and I was reminded that it is a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas Holiday spirit so I thought I’d share. it again. This is such a beautiful story that makes you understand that things truly do happen for a reason. Don’t forget to grab the tissue box.

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn , arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc… and on December 18th they were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

On December 19th a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc… to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet.. ‘Pastor,’ she asked, ‘where did you get that tablecloth?’ The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth, but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a house cleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.

The man asked him where he got the Tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike.

He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

This true Story was submitted by Pastor Rob Reid.



Being the Perfect Hostess

Though Emily Post’s advice in the 1920’s was addressed to a different era, the fundamentals like common sense and common courtesy are elements still pertinent today. With our busy schedules today it takes a lot of work, just as much now as back then, to make a dinner party or weekend a success. The key is in the planning and preparation. You do not want to appear or feel stressed out. With the proper planning and preparation everyone will have a good time including yourself. In order for your guests to have a good time, you need to also.

Emily Post addressed several classifications; mealtime parties, weekend visits, uninvited guests, single women, lingering guests, liquor problems and unexpected gifts. While some of her information is a bit dated, the basics are still the same.

Mealtime Parties ~ Be ready* ahead of time, don’t plan on anyone being late. *Ready means not answering the door in your cleaning clothes with the dust cloth in hand, having the table set as well as the appetizers and cocktails ready to be served at the invitation time.

If this is a larger occasion with assigned seating, be sure to seat guests next to others that they will have things in common. Be especially aware if you have invited children how their placement will affect the mood of the affair.

If you have invited everyone for a backyard BBQ, don’t wear formal wear and diamonds! You want to put your guests at ease. While events today tend to be more casual, your job as hostess is still to put your guests at ease.

Make sure you mingle with all your guests and not keep yourself secluded in the kitchen.

Keep an eye on your guests refreshments. Make sure to offer more as necessary so they don’t feel awkward asking.

Weekend Visits ~ Communication is the key to a good weekend visit. Be sure to cover all your bases in the invitation. Let your guests know if they need their swimming suits or more formal dress for a special night. Let them know what equipment you have on hand if you’re planning on a day of tennis or golfing, etc…

When your guests first arrive be sure to give them a tour including where their room, the bathroom, towels and such are located. I like to also keep a small basket of essential toiletries (small sample shampoos, soaps, a toothbrush and traveling toothpaste) hung in the guest room. I also make sure there are always empty drawers and plenty of “real” hangers hanging in the closet. By real I mean hangers that are not the throw aways from the cleaners that won’t support a suit coat.

I also like to place fresh flowers in their room before they arrive. This isn’t sometimes possible in the winter and so I have a bright and cheery silk arrangement in there also.

If something is off limits be sure to say so up front. Maybe you have told them to make themselves at home and help themselves to whatever they like. You have a special dessert planned though that will use the fresh strawberries. They will not know to not eat the strawberries unless you have said so up front.

Share your plans by giving your guests a basic time line regarding what time you’ll be serving breakfast or leaving for the lake, etc…

If your guests are family or really good friends, don’t be afraid to ask for help when necessary. This will also make them feel more relaxed and promote a more relaxed atmosphere for the weekend.

Uninvited Guests ~ It is like Murphy’s law that an unexpected guest will always show up at the most inconvenient time. Other than normal common courtesy, you have no obligation to an unannounced visitor.

You do have several choices when they arrive at mealtime. If the meal will stretch to include additional portions invite them to stay if you would like. If it will not, feel free to explain to them that you were just about to eat and would they mind stopping by later. If you are on your way out to an appointment or another dinner engagement it is okay to let them know that if they would call first next time they are in the neighborhood you would be sure to be available to see them. All of this is at your discretion based on your relationship with the guests. You naturally always allow more leeway with family and close friends, but it is still your choice.

Single Women ~ In today’s world, this is not the problem it once was. Nowadays this pertains primarily to older women who may not want to arrive or depart by themselves. An attentive hostess will foresee this and ask someone near her if they would mind picking her up and bring her with them and then seeing her home also.

Lingering Guests ~ The best and effective way to end a party at the appropriate time is to close the bar. You could also stifle a hidden yawn, suggest to your spouse that you go to bed to allow your guests to get home or jokingly suggest your guests drop the kids off at school on their way home. You know your guests best and need to decide the best course of action.

Liquor Problems ~ This is pretty much the same today as it was then. As the host you are responsible for seeing that a drunken guest gets home safely. Their car keys should be taken away and discretion used based on each situation.

Unexpected (FOOD such as wine or cakes) Gifts ~ While it is thoughtful, it does not require a priority if it is unexpected. If you have already purchased a wine that coordinates with your menu or prepared a dessert for the meal yours should take precedence. Be sure to thank the donor and tell them how much you will enjoy their gift.

“What are the little things you do to make your guests feel at home?”