Friday, January 27, 2012


What a week it's been in the wasteland of social graces: From a refusal to make the customary sportsman-like handshake, a reported Presidential snub and an inhospitable scolding with the index finger, to passing on a White House invite and pulling punches at a primary's political podium, incivility abounded. Champions of gracious behavior like me no doubt cringed at the tennis player who gave a cold shoulder rather than a handshake, the hockey puck who said 'no thanks' to an official invitation, Arizona's governor for what appeared to be the scolding of the commander-in-chief before the world's lenses, and if some reports are true, the President's own brush off. What was in the coffee these people were drinking this week?
And yet there, in the midst of all the bad form, was a petite woman with a pixie, struggling to ascend steps and speak in the nation's capitol, with a smile wider than the Mississippi river, reminding all of us of the indomitable spirit within. Watching Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who nearly lost her life in an assassination attempt, deliver her resignation, victorious in her battle to live, was the very epitome of Amazing Grace. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Giffords "the brightest star among us." Pelosi went on to say "she has brought the word 'dignity' to new heights by her courage."
And like Giffords, Friday's front page of The Bakersfield Californian featured the poignant photograph of a young man in the prime of his life, now at death's door, who was gifted, through the generosity of a loving community, the opportunity to put memories on file for loved ones. Amazing. Grace.
Too often on this blog and elsewhere, these 'lights' of hope and promise don't receive the attention they deserve. It it is easier to focus on the 'lemons' of a celebrity behaving badly rather than the 'lemonade' of the truly beautiful people in our midst.
May the Jose Gameros and Gabby Giffords inspire all of us to treasure the beauty of life, and of the amazing grace of valiance and bravery.

After all, it REALLY does 'Manner A lot'!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


What a display of distaste from Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas yesterday in snubbing the President of the United States by NOT attending a White House event celebrating the 2011 Stanley Cup winners. That's right - NOT attending! Talk about a major foul. I won't dignify his reasoning by reprinting it here. In a statement Thomas said he was exercising his right as a free citizen and blathered on about it being a choice he HAD to make as an individual. Really? Swap out this guy's MVP award with a trophy for being the highest scorer in the Bad Form Bowl.
As per Emily Post from her Blue Book of Social Usage's tenth edition, 'an invitation to lunch or dine at The White House is a command and automatically cancels any other engagement'. Period. Post goes on to write that 'there are very few acceptable excuses for refusing an invitation to The White House, and the reason must be stated in the note of regret - such as an extended absence in a foreign country, the recent death of a close relative, or actual illness.
Not accepting the invitation for anything short of that might be exercising one's freedom -which no one is arguing against here - but is also the height of bad manners. An invitation from The White House is an honor and as coveted as they get.
The boycott was a slap in the face to the nation's Commander-in-Chief regardless of his political leanings, as well as a hockey stick smack up the side of the helmets of his teammates. The spotlight should have been on the Stanley Cup winners, not the player who was a 'no show'.
Besides, if the MVP is truly in such a lather over the state of the nation, presumably he would have had the perfect opportunity to 'bend' the President's ear for a minute or two about how to get America back in the game. If his 'ice out' of the man who occupies the highest office in the land was intended as a powerful protest, it fell far short of that goal. Tim Thomas gets my mvp title of Mr. Very Pitiful for disrespecting our nation's leader. What a puck! After all, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


As inevitable as death is, expressing our sorrow to someone who has lost a loved one remains difficult at best for most. So many people will struggle with what to say or how to say it that they never do it at all.
Don't let that paralyze you from extending compassion.
A condolence letter won't ease the heartache of the recipient, but it will give them a measure of comfort knowing they are in other people's thoughts and prayers.
That is where our sincere notes and letters come in. It is the worst time in a family's life, yet anyone who has walked that path will tell you how much the handwritten notes and letters meant to them.
While greeting card companies produce Sympathy cards, the occasion of the death of someone special absolutely calls for a handwritten note on personal stationary. Do not, under any circumstances, tweet, facebook message, or e-mail condolences.
The letter needn't be lengthy. A heartfelt expression of sorrow for their loss, followed by a personal remembrance including the name of the descedant is sufficient.
The letter should be written within several days of learning of the passing. Beyond two to three months, unless you've been living on the moon, is at expiration-status, too late and risking insensitivity.
On occasion, I will tuck a linen handkerchief into a note or have it hand-delivered for the recipient to place in their purse for use the day of the service. Often people remark that they'd never thought of a gesture so intimate.
Expressing condolences opens up a window of possibilities of ways to reach out, comfort, and console...whether it be handerchiefs or handmade pot pies.
This time-honored tradition is more than just a gesture of thoughtfulness, it is a way for us to connect, comfort and underscore the essence of civility. Afterall, it really DOES 'Manner A lot'.