Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday Wisdom - Spread Gratitude & Goodwill This Thanksgiving

If you're feeling particularly challenged this Thanksgiving, don't despair. Grab onto goodness with all of your might. The world is watching and it responds in kind.  Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Virtually everyone is facing one type of challenge or other. It may be dealing with the loss of a home or a loved one or taking care of a child or significant other who is battling a mental or physical health illness. Any feeling of overwhelm can be easily overcome through connection and a kind word.  When we are grateful, good things we thought impossible, suddenly materialize. Find ways to volunteer your time, your money or your resources. If you enjoy hosting, open your home. If you are a guest, wear your most important accessory - your smile. The grace and generosity you bestow during one of the most beloved holidays of the year will come back in spades.  Here are our top 5 etiquette tips to enjoying a most grateful and gracious Thanksgiving this year and always.

1. Set the tone with a warm and welcoming scene. To create those cozy feelings we associate with Thanksgiving start by setting a warm and welcoming scene.  Begin with good lighting to give everyone a soft glow. Ask Alexa to play some soothing background music. Break out your wedding china (when else are you gonna use it?). Match it with hand-made placemats designed by your kids. Select fresh blooms from your garden to give it an especially organic feel. A beautifully appointed table makes the food taste so much better.  You’ll relish in the oohs and aahs as your guests enter your home.

2. Put extra oomph into your food presentation.  Thanksgiving is the Super Bowl of food holidays. People diet for weeks in advance just to partake in an endless buffet of delectable savories and sweets.  Regardless of whether you slave over the stove making every last item on your menu days in advance or place a call to your favorite take-out restaurant for a fancy spread you can serve on the fly, everyone appreciates piles of food placed neatly on eye-pleasing platters. Toss the cans of cranberry sauce before your guests arrive. Scoop the stuffing from containers into porcelain covered bowls.  Forgo the plastic ware and paper plates in favor of real dishes and utensils. Have each item set on the table along with its designated serving piece.  

3. Keep the atmosphere light and breezy. It is a well-known fact that laughter is the best remedy for any difficulty. If we can lighten the mood and find the silly during even the darkest times, it allows us to not take life so darn seriously.  Lord knows we can't control the curve balls so we may as well embrace the circumstances with a few coping mechanisms. Put on a funny holiday movie, crack a joke or encourage a spontaneous game of charades. Any of these are guaranteed to bring the crew together and hopefully make everyone forget their troubles (at least for a while).
4. Connect with compliments and nice questions. Strike up a conversation with a loved one or friend by opening with a compliment. It doesn't have to be anything earth-shattering, but it should be authentic. When we are truly present for one another it is easy to find something sweet to say that will make the other person feel good and loved during this time of year. Keep the conversation going with a few nice (not nosy) questions and actively listen to the answers. Sometimes people just want to be heard.  A sincere interest goes a very long way in building and sustaining a good relationship. 

5. There is no better attitude than that of gratitude. We must find a way to give thanks at Thanksgiving. Big or small – it doesn’t matter.  Being invited to someone's home or hosting a Thanksgiving meal is a blessing. Sharing the holiday with older relatives who are healthy and well is a blessing. Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family is a blessing. You never know what the future holds so cherish each moment together, appreciate each other and concentrate on the positive. Finally, before you gorge yourself with the Thanksgiving feast, go around the table and say one thing you are thankful for and maybe even one nice thing to each person at the table. This will bring instant connection and love to everyone in the room and isn't that all we really want anyway?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Manners Monday – Midterm Election Etiquette for the Masses

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 is one of the most important midterm elections we’ve witnessed in recent history. With a number of states experiencing excruciatingly tight competition, the question on everybody’s mind is whether the Democrats will win back the House majority or if President Trump will stump the country once again with an unprecedented win for the Republican Party. One thing’s for certain, citizens across the country will be stapled to their seats until the very last ballot is counted.  

Voter registration continues to hit record highs and never has it seemed more important for our collective voices to be heard.  Our great country has been fueled by recent acts of violence spawned by intense hatred and symptomatic of our venomous discourse, but we are better than this and it’s time to start acting like it.  Every American has the right to their opinion and may vote accordingly so please don't force your righteous rhetoric down another person's throat. All the money, campaigning, and grassroots pounding the pavement will reveal itself soon enough.  We will have to find a way to move forward in peace as ONE nation together. Treat tomorrow as an opportunity to learn and listen and not to judge or bully. Let us begin by showing some respect for the process and act with poise at the polls. Here’s a list of Midterm Election etiquette do’s and don’ts to ensure everything goes as planned.

·  Go Early.  While most polls are open all day until 7:00pm, it's best to head to polling booths bright and early before going to work or beginning your day.  
·   Bring ID. To prevent voter fraud, new laws may require an original birth certificate in addition to a driver’s license, school identification or another ID card.
·   Honor Privacy.  With this race particularly heated, people are preferring to keep their personal choice mum.  Allow friends and family their vote without pressuring them to divulge whom they support.  
·   Respect Volunteers. Polling place volunteers are regular people just like you and me. They have dedicated their valuable time, they are not getting paid, and are doing their best.  Be patient, kind, and polite.
·  Take Reading Aids. This is not the day to forget your glasses. Reading the ballots is difficult, the type is very small.  It would be a shame to wait on a long line only to discover you couldn't decipher the ballot.
·   Electioneer.  An amendment prohibits people from wearing political buttons, hats, pins or T-shirts near polling places which are considered a campaign free zone. If you do so, you will be asked to remove the items or turn your tee shirt inside out. No campaign material that could influence other voters is allowed.
· Talk Politics. Don’t verbalize your thoughts about each candidate or whom you are voting for while waiting in line. It's nobody's business.
·  Be Alarmed.  There may be police presence at polling booths. Officials expect emotions to be on high this Tuesday so they are taking precautionary measures by stationing law enforcement armed with guns to ensure the safety of all.
·  Dawdle. Prepare ahead of time by familiarizing yourself with the ballot choices beforehand so you may be more efficient in the polling booth. Some places will let you take a pre-marked sample ballot into the booth so that you may simply copy your marks onto the official ballot saving oodles of time.
·  Be Hesitant. If you have young children, don’t hesitate to share how you voted. Use this as a teachable moment to talk about the process and the dominant message of each party. This will help them with their critical thinking and encourage them to have an independent voice of their own. 
·  Don't forget to proudly display your "I Voted" sticker or pin.