Motivation to Teach Tactful Correspondence

"Oh, I already have this book." Or, "I don't really play with the big legos anymore." Oh, the brutal honesty of children. Maybe the well mannered mother didn't have the time and/or presence of mind to deflect some of her children's too-honest responses to presents this year. There's always next year: they will be a little older and possibly throwing out social lies by then.  In the mean time, the modern mother might want to review the "Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?" adage with her children, lest any relatives begin grumbling about "bratty children" and give up on her brood entirely.

More importantly, as they approach thank you notes in the lull between Christmas and New Year's, the modern mother might want to help her children work on tactful correspondence. As a motivational tool, we pass on these cards from children posted on someecards

Happy Festive Time of Year!

When our big plans for a rousing Holiday Blog encountered sick children, unexpected travel and traditional Christmas chaos we decided to do what any marginally clear-thinking modern mothers would do.  We let some of the non-essential stuff slide.  We have been trying to focus on the important things this week, trying to keep it simple, reminding ourselves that the holidays are about friends and family not stress and perfection.  Here's hoping!

Merry Christmas.  Happy Everything!

Elizabeth & Elizabeth

Friday Frivolity - Who is this guy?

He's a little retro and frankly a little creepy.  Yet with an alacrity reserved for super heros and high-speed trains in other countries this guy has raced to the #1 spot of Christmas icons.  Five years ago, who had ever hear of The Elf on the Shelf?  Now, he is everywhere.  Our imperfect research suggests that 96% of the second-grade day is currently spent talking about him, comparing elves, writing him notes, sharing the notes one has received from him, leaving him snacks and wondering where he will turn up tomorrow.

picture courtesy of Google Images

The Travails and Triumphs of Trimming the Tree

When the time comes to deck the halls, the modern mother might like to imagine venturing into a forest  with a husband dressed in plaid, ax in hand. Their cheerful children would carol as they stomp through the snow, with rosy cheeks and frosty breath.

In reality, though, the process of taking a large woody plant from curbside to living room, can be, well, excruciating. For the suburban family, it may typically involve a cash exchange in a corner parking lot, some swearing and/or sweating as the tree is transported, multiple “straightenings” which require at least one adult person to lie belly down on the carpet, suffering a hailstorm of evergreen needles, which of course leads to more swearing.  And all this, before a strand of lights or a single ornament have been added.  

Once the tree is officially positioned, the modern mother can breathe a sigh of relief and let the melee begin. Nevermind, the tangled strings of lights, the crushed or broken ornaments, and/or the fact that all adornments will end up on the bottom third of the tree.  Her children are laughing.  They are remembering holidays of past years. Most importantly, they are not fighting.  

As the ruckus proceeds, the well-mannered mother can collapse in a chair, hum along to some holiday music, look from the shining lights on the tree to the shining faces of her children, and marvel at how exhausting and exhilarating this business of mothering can be.  

* photo from proforged via flickr

Friday Frivolity - Holiday Card Therapy

No one looking in the same direction?  Eyes crossed?  legs uncrossed? One sibling giving the other bunny ears?  Or the bird?  No matter how unmannerly the modern mother may think her own attempts at Holiday Cards she can take comfort, and hopefully have a good laugh, looking at the brilliant website Awkward Family Photos.  Don't miss the cat picture.

Photo from Awkward Family Photos obviously

Air Safety

From time to time the usually well mannered modern mother may find herself in a situation upon which she may look back with a certain amount of chagrin.

The story may go something like this.  The well mannered, financially savvy father may have found a wonderful deal online whereby if he applied for a credit card through a certain, shall we say, lesser know airline he could then fly his family of four to and from Florida for the low, low price of $89.99 or something like that.  And so, while applauding her beloved spouse's economic acumen, the normally well mannered mother (who is admittedly a nervous flyer at the best of times) might have found this a bit unnerving.  Her jittery state was in no way assuaged upon arriving at the check in counter and finding herself surrounded by persons who looked like they might have needed to let their parole officers know they were intending to leave town.  Nor did it help when the cheery airline employee asked "Would you like to use our check-in kiosk or are you paying cash?"  Cash?  It also seemed a bit unusual that so many people had packed their belongings in large trash bags and were using plastic grocery bags for carry-ons.  Yet, one does not like to judge a book by its cover.

So our intrepid travelers move on through security.  Despite all the recent media hype this might be quite painless.  Is it possible, wonders the modern mother, that terrorists are only interested in targeting legitimate, name-brand airlines?  With forty minute to board the modern mother might decide a medicinal Bloody Mary might be just what the doctor ordered.  Nothing like a little Dutch courage and next thing you know the modern mother and her family are all aboard and ready to go.

Fast forward 3 hours and approximately as many more medicinal Blood Marys later.  It has been a pleasant enough flight and the air hostess has now asked everyone to prepare for landing.  The plane is descending rapidly when suddenly two rows in front of the usually well mannered mother there is mamba music.  Some person has left on his phone.  Now we all make mistakes, and the modern mother likes to believe that if the offender had simply turned the phone off that would have been the end of the story.  But what does this person do?  He starts TALKING on the phone AS THE PLANE IS LANDING!  Decorum aside, that is DANGEROUS. Who knows how much attention air traffic pays to these no-name airlines?  What if signals got crossed and the flight is run into by a real plane like Delta or US Air?  In any event, it is at this point that a normally well-mannered mother might decide to say something very loudly in an otherwise silent airplane cabin such as,  "STOP TALKING and TURN OFF YOUR PHONE! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?  THE PLANE IS LANDING!"  And when he continues on the line "WOULD YOU PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR PHONE NOW!" or something like that.

Of course the instant the well mannered mother has succeeded in her reprimand and realizes the entire plane is now staring at her, she would turn bright red and be quite embarrassed even if she has saved countless lives.  Because one never likes to make a scene.

Photo courtesy of Yahoo Images

Isn't Life Sweet?

Does the use of an expensive vacuum siphon coffee making machine make one superior?  Does importing custom cabinet knobs make one a connoisseur? Does purchasing 78 varieties of scotch, or rum, or vodka make one an expert? An authority? A taste-maker? 

Perhaps we all know someone who would answer yes to these questions. Doubtless, our readers know better. The world is a big place and we are lucky to live here and now where choices are endless. One can readily purchase lemon grass, truffle oil, and free trade organic chocolate (85% cacao, or course) at the supermarket, sushi on every street corner, and 200 varieties of mircobrew beer at the local liquor store.  

Yes, most of our lives are sweet. Our world is filled with variety and luxuries, large and small, but partaking in those luxuries just makes us lucky, not superior.  

A Goodie for Gift Givers

As the holiday season takes off, the modern mother might find herself in a whirlwind of presents to be purchased (or made), labelled, organized, and distributed: teacher gifts, hostess gifts, holiday gifts for parents, children, husband, siblings, and maybe even the family dog. How will she keep them all straight?  How will she make them all look festive, adorable and giftey?

One place to start would be with these gift tags from Lobird Stationery. We discovered them via Summer is a Verb, and are still trying to choose favorites. Featuring whimsical illustrations and customizable ribbons, they're sure to add a little thrill to your gift giving.  

The Delicate Dance of Receiving a Compliment

Ah, compliments.  Anyone can toss one out,  "Your kaftan is to die for!" "Have you lost weight?" "My your house looks lovely this evening..." It's easier than a good tennis serve.  It is the return of course, that can trip one up so easily.   In these effusive times,  when every pause in conversation is filled with "I just love you handbag" it is harder than ever to come up with the correct mannerly response to such unsolicited and often hollow-sounding praise.

In an effort to be modest (or possibly point our her superb retail skills) a recipient may find herself saying something like "Oooh thanks!  Target, for just $19.99 - can you believe?" or "I got it at Bloomies with double coupons - I saved a bundle I can tell you!"

Then there is the serve and volley situation. Sally says, "Oh I love that skirt" Jane shoots back "Thank you, I've been admiring your shoes all evening."  Sally, "And your hair looks fabulous." Jane, "Look at your bracelet!" These gals could go all night.

Occasionally, although this seems to be the metier of the older generation and European ladies, one still hears "Oh, this old thing? I've had it for ages" in answer to a compliment.  This response is elegant in its modesty but may have the (hopefully) unintended side effect of making the complimenter feel a bit silly for liking some 'old thing' even if it is vintage Dior.

So we come to this blogger's favorite response to any compliment, which for some reason seems harder and harder to stand by in these days of constant chatter.  It is of course, wait for it... the classic and oh-so-simple "Thank you." Yet, we ask ourselves, amid all the babble around us, is it enough? Is it enough to assume the person giving you a compliment is sincere?  Is it enough to be grateful for the kind words of praise and demonstrate this in the most genuine and brief way possible?

Let's hope so.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...