World Peace Begins with Good Manners

I’ve been flabbergasted by recent media stories which illustrate the poor behavior of many. What happened to treating each other with respect? Has no one taught their children manners since the 1970s? I thought the holiday season was supposed to be all about brotherly love. I’m beginning to think that’s a lot of rot!

Here are some examples of people demonstrating complete absence of manners/cordiality:

Sadly, there are many more examples of shoppers gone wild, which reminds me of a quote attributed to Mark Twain: “Concerning the difference between man and the jackass: some observers hold that there isn’t any. But this wrongs the jackass.”

Honestly, there is no frelling product out there that is worth this hullabaloo, and how can it be worth one’s time and loss of dignity to save a few dollars at a sale? There is no better time of year to ask, “What would Jesus do?” If you can’t make that inquiry, then consider, “What makes sense and will do no harm?”

I wish I could say that ill manners were seasonal. The sad truth is socially appropriate behavior seems to be going the way of the Siberian tiger. Soon, I expect good conduct will be extinct. It seems so simple to me to express and demonstrate courtesy. Why is it so difficult for others? For example, why did one woman yell ‘boring’ during a symphony performance (one in which her daughter participated as a musician)? I hate to think of the complicated relationship they must have, but overlooking that, why would anyone behave in such a way?

I really do think we could improve the world if we considered others over ourselves momentarily each day. If everyone made a conscious effort to be considerate to others, particularly to those individuals we don’t know, for 30 minutes a day, wouldn’t things actually be easier for all of us?

Here are some ways to begin our march toward world peace:

  • Let someone slide in front of you in a flow of traffic (Watch as this courtesy pays forward. I’ve done this little experiment many times.)
  • Open a door for someone or let someone enter an elevator before you.
  • If someone is a few cents short at a cash register, give them some change to pay their bill.
  • When someone says, “Thank you,” reply with “You’re welcome.” Don’t say, “No problem.” I don’t know when this entered our lexicon, but I’m making an effort to make it go away. Being courteous shouldn’t be considered an inconvenience!
  • If you see someone struggling with shopping bags, loads of fertilizer, whatever bundle that would be better handled by a pachyderm, stop and ask if they need assistance.
  • Be kind to those who wait on you – restaurant staff, store clerks, etc. Smile. Thank them for their service.
  • Think of something nice to say to everyone. Remember what Thumper’s mother told him, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Good luck! If you think of something you’d like to add to this list, please leave a comment. We’ll all have to work at this together!


Guilty Pleasures

After ordering a venti iced green tea without sugar and a marshmallow treat at Starbucks, I began to think of my guilty pleasures (these being two). Here’s a list I’ve devised:

  • Medium rare rib-eye steak and a fully loaded baked potato
  • Long, hot bath with a good book
  • High-end bar soap
  • Having the swimming pool all to myself for lap swimming
  • Giovanni Body Butter
  • A glass of port
  • Eggnog with rum/brandy and nutmeg
  • Laying in bed reading, knitting, or watching a movie
  • Time in a bookstore or library
  • Week day afternoon movie at the theater
  • Chocolate covered peanuts
  • Opening all of the windows to circulate cool, fresh air throughout the house
  • Reading the print version of The New York Times
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • High-end yarn – the kind you’d want to be smothered in
  • A jewelry purchase (this is a rare pleasure)
  • Super soft bed sheets and fluffy down pillows
  • Laughing (I don’t get to do that nearly enough)
  • Figuring out a math problem
  • Sleeping (I’m an insomniac)

I could easily come up with a list of pet peeves too, but why spoil things. What are your G-rated guilty pleasures?


11-11-11 and 11 Memories of My Son

This was made by my son when he was in Kindergarten or first grade. It is a place mat. He made another that is a cornucopia and includes a prayer. I just adore the apple tree.

Since this is the season of thanks and giving, I thought I would share 11 memories I have of my son Andrew. I am most thankful to have him in my life. He is my greatest joy!

  1. Without  him, I may have never grown up. Once I became responsible for another human being, I had to put aside my own selfishness. It wasn’t always easy though. When he was in high school, I found out he had been skipping school for over a month. He pretended to go in the morning, but as soon as he knew I was out of the house, he’d go back home. It’s pretty funny now. At the time it happened, I was shocked. He easily made up the work, but he had to spend a lot of time in suspension on Saturdays. When I think of Saturday school suspension now, I wonder at the ridiculousness of it.
  2. When he was between the ages of 4 and 7, there was a popular cartoon on television about the Ghostbusters. He loved the Ghostbusters, and often at night we would make up stories together about their adventures. One of us would start with something and then the other would pick up and we’d go back and forth until we had an entire story. It was so much fun! Sometimes we’d do drawings like this too. Drawings could be about anything. I’d draw something (e.g., an alien space ship) and then he’d draw something (e.g., an alien) and we’d again go back and forth until we had a picture story. It was such a joy to imagine things together. This is one of my fondest memories.
  3. I recall us going to the grocery store one late afternoon as a storm was approaching. Andrew was around 4-years old. When we came out of the store, a flash of lightening burst across the dark horizon. He said, “Look mommy, the sky is breaking.” He was right. I thought of what  a chicken sees when its egg first cracks. First light to a baby chick would look like what Andrew described. I think all parents would agree that sometimes their  kids blow their socks off with what they say.
  4. Andrew has always had a unique appetite. He never really liked peanut butter and jelly, but he always liked fish, including sushi and more exotic fishy things. He was still in elementary school when one weekend we ventured into a Thai or Vietnamese restaurant (my memory fails me here). I ordered something like spring rolls and he ordered the fishiest smelling and grayest soup ever made. He ate every bite and did not get sick. I was nearly sick from smelling and looking at it.
  5. Still on the subject of appetite. Just after Andrew finished high school he became very serious about physical training. During this time he drank protein, ate protein, lived protein. There were shake cups all around the kitchen sink and in the dishwasher; the cupboards were full of giant containers of powdered protein; the refrigerator was full of containers of egg whites; the freezer was stocked with chicken breasts. There were containers of protein everywhere. Despite his dietary concentration on protein, we couldn’t be away from the house for 20 minutes before he’d say, “I’m hungry,” and I’d say, “You just ate.”
  6. One day I was home early, I don’t recall why, but it was a nice day and I decided to go for a walk. I was walking past the elementary school Andrew attended when it let out. I saw Andrew with two of his 6th grade pals. They were laughing and having such a good time. He did not see me. I watched for awhile and then continued my walk. It made me so happy to see him happy. That’s really all I have ever wanted for him – happiness. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him about this. I kept it as a secret pleasure.
  7. Andrew and I went to a movie almost every weekend from the time he could appreciate an animated film (age 3) to the time he was in high school. When we get together now, we usually go see a movie. It’s so much fun to share a movie with him. We recently saw the movie Moneyball starring Brad Pitt. We had a good conversation about baseball and hockey after the film. We also enjoy a lot of the same television programs. Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire are two favorites. It’s fun talking about the characters in these programs.
  8. When Andrew was two he slipped in the bathtub while I was giving him a bath. His chin landed on the edge of the tub and split open. I rushed him to an emergency doc-in-the-box clinic. I was more hysterical than he was. The doctors wisely made me wait outside the room where they stitched him up.
  9. I can remember two times when Andrew and I were together and something funny happened and we laughed until we cried. Once we were listening to a radio talk show and the three hosts were relating a rather gross but funny story. I was driving at the time and I remember it was hard to see through the tears. The other time, Andrew and I were sitting in the living room chatting. Our calico cat was sitting in the middle of the room minding her own business. Our tuxedo cat, a goofball (think Lenny in Mice and Men), went and sat on her head, butt first. We started laughing. We’d never seen anything like it. He moved when she did, but once she was settled again, he went back to sit on her head. I guess this is one of those “you had to be there” moments to appreciate it. We certainly did.
  10. The school Andrew attended from K3-4th grade had a Christmas shopping event for the kids. It provided an opportunity for them to shop for gifts for their parents. Parents would send money and kids would select gifts in the “store.” Andrew was so excited the first time he did this. He could barely keep my gift a secret. Of course, this was the first thing I opened. I was so pleased with his choice. It was a ceramic bell with a mommy bear and a baby bear on it. I’m teary eyed just thinking about it. He must have really looked hard to find what he thought was the perfect gift. I still have it!
  11. Andrew was born a month early. He weighed 5lbs and 6oz. He could fit in his daddy’s hand. He was a fussy little nugget. He’d only sleep if he was rocking in the windup cradle, or if the vacuum was running, or if we drove him around in the car, or if he laid on my stomach or his dad’s stomach. His dad and I used to debate over who’d get to have him for a turn on our stomachs. It felt good to have that little body resting on you. I can still picture him on his daddy’s stomach resting peacefully. Both looked happy as pie.