Tag: Manners

Topic: What I learned from…

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

As we just celebrated Mother’s Day, Ally and I thought it would be appropriate (and nice) to think about what my mother’s (and her grandmother’s) have taught each of us.  My mom…Del, and my “other mother”…Stella (Brian’s mom), both died within the past two years.

Both of them were a big deal in our lives.

And , both of them taught us a lot.


I was incredibly lucky to have these two very dynamic mothers in my life.  Both women taught me more by example than through any form of lecture or instruction.  Neither was the type of woman who demanded or directed, but instead encouraged me, held my hand in good times and in bad, and helped guide me toward becoming the woman I am today.

(So if you don’t like me…blame them)

Ahhh…but it’s not that easy… Damn it.

I know I have to take responsibility for who am I (which is one of the things they both taught me).

Damn it.

But they also taught me all kinds of other things, like…

It’s important to become an independent woman:

My mom taught me that independence was about developing your own opinions and being able to stand on your own two feet and take care of yourself, even though (ironically), she was happiest in her dependence on my dad.

Stella taught me to embrace my independent spirit, and yet, don’t be afraid to lean on those who love and care about you.

Be fearless when choosing a career:

My mom didn’t worked outside the home while I was growing up, but was tireless in her encouragement of me to find a career that would challenge my mind and tap into my personal skills.  She taught me that there were many paths I could take, as long as they led in a direction that would allow me to learn and grow along the way.

Stella taught me that no matter how old you are, you can make a contribution to others through work or volunteering.  Shortly after Brian and I were married, Stella went back to work (full time) at the age of 60 in a job that required her to learn a whole new technology (automatic typewriters were just coming into vogue back then).   She was never so vibrant or as happy as she was in that job.  It helped her gain a whole new level of self confidence…and opened up a whole new group of friends that would be with her the rest of her life.

You’ve got to ENJOY your children:

My mom taught me to be a disciplinarian (good manners were a must!) but not to forget to have fun with my kids.  She believed that humor built the strongest ties (with your children…or anyone for that matter).   And spending any time with her…meant a time filled with stories and laughter…and fun.

Stella was also a stickler for good manners, but taught me that there was always time to play a game, work on a project or sing a song with your kids, and if it didn’t seem like you had the time…it was up to you to figure out a way to find it.

Love completes you:

My mom loved her family more than life itself…but she had only one true romantic love.  My dad.  She taught me that love completes you, but be cautious and judicious about who you love.

Stella taught me to be open to love people of all ages, and from every walk of life.  She truly loved her friends and family, and more often than not…her friends became her family.


I know that a day doesn’t go by without some life lesson becoming apparent that I learned from one of these two mothers.

They added so much to life and I miss them more than anyone could know.

And luckily, I now have another mother in my life who offers me all of the love and encouragement I could ever hope for (thank you Mary!).  And…I continue to learn from her as well.

What a lucky woman I am to have such wonderful mothers in my life to offer me such wisdom.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom – Del, to Stella and to Mary.

Thank you for all the lessons you’ve taught me.

Mom told me this post is supposed to be about my grandmothers, so I won’t really write about her, because I always usually listen to her.

BUT, I can’t write a Mother’s Day post without saying that she’s amazing.  So, a quick poem:

C is for caring, because she cares about me (and you) a lot.

I is for intelligence, because she’s smarter than your average robot.

N is for not normal, because normal she is not.

D is for dashing, because she’s beautiful and hot.

Y is for y-awesome, because that’s all that I’ve got!

AND NOW, what I learned from my Grammy and Grandma:

Never act your age.


Stand for something.

Wear your seat belt.

Lift your hands up when you’re choking.

Play games.

Grammar is *really* important.

Stay informed.

Candy has no expiration date.  (Just because it hurts your teeth to eat that jelly bean or licorice whip, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.)

Watch old movies.

Say please and thank you.

Send birthday cards.

Take risks in your life.

Make jokes about things that usually make you cry.

Do crossword puzzles.

Sleep is over-rated.

Baking is also over-rated.  (Why bake when you can buy perfectly good brownies in a box?)


(But some people deserve to be hated.)

I miss my grandmothers.

A lot.

But I’m so thankful that they taught me all of these lessons (and many more that I can’t list here).

(Like seriously, the choking one?  Totally useful.)

Happy Mom’s Day!

(PS: Mom, I was going to put “young” for the “Y”, but I couldn’t make it work.  I want full credit, though.)

I have so many…it’s hard to narrow them all down to the biggest….which probably says more about me than about the peeves themselves.

But given this forum, I will certainly try.

In general, my pet peeves ALL have to do with noises.  Not just any noises.  People noises.

You know.  The kinds of sounds that people make that annoy, disturb and grate on your nerves down to your soul.

Like cracking knuckles.

OMG I hate it when people crack their knuckles.  I physically stop and turn and glare when I hear someone make that sound of bone joints being pushed in a downward motion until they involuntarily crack…out loud.

OY…it drives me nuts.

Some members of my family (you know who you are) would probably be much happier if they were “allowed” to crack their poor innocent knuckles in my presence, but alas…they know it will never happen.   Because it is the most god awful noise on the planet, and I’m not a nice enough person to “let it go” in favor of letting them indulge in something that drives me so insane.

Because it’s really about me.  Duh.

They’ve tried to tell me that they crack their knuckles “unconsciously.”  Like the urge to move the little bones in their hands until they snap, crackle and pop comes over them in some uncontrollable way.

I don’t think so.

If I want to let loose with an ear screeching squeal (like a panicked dolphin call)…of which I’ve been known to do in the presence of “unconscious” knuckle cracking…I do so with absolute intent.  There’s nothing unconscious about it.

So a word to the wise…when you’re near me, don’t crack your knuckles or I might start squealing at the top of my lungs.

Pet peeve #2…Cracking Gum (notice a pattern here).

Who really likes to be around someone who’s cracking their gum?

I mean really.  No one can crack their gum quietly or with grace.  No…it takes a good amount of jaw thrashing to move their gum strategically to the back of their jaws, while forcing an air bubble into the stretchy fibers, and then biting down at just the right moment to achieve the perfect crack.

It’s a disgusting habit that takes years to perfect…and I have to admit it…I’d like to kill anyone whose worked that hard to perfect it.


I actually almost lost a job once because I leapt over my desk at a co-worker who had been cracking her gum for 4 straight hours.   No warning…just leapt and went for her throat (her mouth actually to rip out the stupid gum) before another co-worker grabbed me and shook me to my senses.

Which brings me to my last biggest peeve.


Don’t you think that people who sniff should be shot?

There is no reason for it.  We have tissues.  We have sleeves (I know it’s disgusting but it’s better than sniffing!).  So I have absolutely no tolerance for people who sniff.

Unless they’re at a funeral, in which case they get a sniffing pass.

Or they’re really sick with a raging sinus infection and a temperature of over 103 degrees (no less).

Otherwise…there is no excuse for sniffing.

Or cracking your knuckles or your gum.

Here it is.  The post where we talk about all of the things that annoy us, all of the things that make us shudder, the things that that make us silently (usually) judge others…

We all have our “pet peeves”, and I think that a lot of them can be pretty universal.  I don’t think I know anyone who loves people who talk on their cell phones in the movie theater.

(OK, maybe you like that (or DO that), but I’m thinking the majority of people out there tend to be annoyed by it.)

And I also think that the things that annoy us can be passed down from our parents.  At least that’s the case for me.

(I’m not saying that it’s genetic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my loathing for the sound of people chewing or swallowing is programmed into my DNA.)

I grew up with parents who shared their opinions.  For my beautiful, loving mother, that meant we couldn’t get away with ANYTHING that annoyed her.

If we popped our gum or cracked our knuckles, we got a DEATH STARE (every mom has one), and I learned very early on that you don’t want the DEATH STARE.

So I quickly figured out how to avoid it, and soon those things became annoying to me, too.

So I’m betting that most of the things on her list are also on mine.

But in particular:

I can’t stand noises like nose sniffing or throat clearing.

I hate (HATE) hypocritical people.

Snobbery drives me crazy.

And one that’s manifested recently for me is people who share inane, pointless information on social networks.  Sure, I’ve been known to do it myself, but in the last couple of months I’ve become increasingly ticked off by it.  The truth is that I don’t care what you ate for breakfast or who you ate that breakfast with.  It’s gotten to the point where I’ve had to severely limit my time online because it was affecting my happiness (and probably my blood pressure)…

Speaking of pet peeves related to social networks: the other thing that annoys me to no end (and I know I’m not the only one), are status updates that are purposefully vague and that beg the question “WHAT HAPPENED???”  For the love of the Facebook gods, people, stop leaving status updates that say “In the ER…” or “My life is over” or “My heart is broken because the man I’ve loved for 13 years did this to me…”  JUST STOP IT.  I know that the ability to share these things (and evoke sympathy) is tempting, but either be explicit (as in “I’m in the ER but it’s because I got a pencil stuck in my ear again, so no big deal”) or keep it off of the internet.


I would apologize for the rant, but let’s face it, pet peeves do that to us.  My mom’s stare didn’t happen without passion and fury and all of the pain that the sound of cracking knuckles brings up for her.

Pet peeves make us rant and rave and TYPE IN ALL CAPS and unleash the DEATH STARE…

Passion is good.

And if these stupid, annoying things are what get my blood boiling… well, then I have it pretty damn easy.

Plus, I really, really like typing in all caps…

(PS: If we’re Facebook friends, I’m not talking about your Facebook updates.  Your Facebook updates are always awesome and witty and relevant.)

(PPS: Please still be my friend.)

Topic: Thank You Notes

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

I love receiving a handwritten thank you note.  It warms my heart to think that someone would take the time to sit down and write a personal sentiment, in a card, and put it in the mail…to me.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to feel any kind of yearning to do the same for others.  I have always failed miserably at writing Thank You Notes and, I believe, I have also failed at teaching my children to write them as well.

Clearly, I was a lousy parent.

Writing a Thank You Note is a classy thing to do.  It’s thoughtful and sweet.  It’s what my mother taught me was “the right thing to do.”    And, according to my mother, anyone who wasn’t raised in a barn knows that there are some basic situations when sending a handwritten Thank You Note is REQUIRED.

They are (for your reference) as follows:

1) Any gifts received from a grandparent.

(otherwise the parent will hear about it and that’s never good for the kid)

2) Any gifts received from relatives sent through the mail for birthdays or holidays.

(otherwise the parent will hear about it and that’s never good for the kid)

3) Any gifts received for Bar Mitzvahs (or other such cultural “coming of age” celebrations), Weddings and/or Showers and new baby gifts.

(otherwise the parent will hear about it and that’s never good for the kid)

Fortunately, (I thought) my kids always lived near their grandparents and were able to give them a huge hug and thank them directly for any gift they received.  So I didn’t “make” them write thank you notes to their grandparents (bad parent!).

And, my brother’s the only one who ever sent them gifts on holidays…so he probably thought they were raised in a barn, because I’m sure he never received a Thank You Note from either of them…EVER!

And alas, my kids never had those coming of age celebrations (at least none thus far, other than graduations from high school & college and I think, maybe, I hope, they wrote some Thank You Notes!?!) so they haven’t really been exposed to the absolute joy of writing hundreds of thank you notes to tons of people who gave them gifts (poor babies).

But gifts aren’t the only reason to write a Thank You Note (I’ve been told).

There are those really thoughtful people out there who exceed all Thank You Note expectations and write them as a lovely follow up to:

1) A job interview.

2) A lunch with a friend.

3) A dinner out with friends.

4) A nice conversation on the phone.

I hate those people.  They give the rest of us a bad name.  They make us look lazy.  They make us look like we were raised in a barn.

So for the record…in case you haven’t figured it out yet…I HATE writing Thank You Notes!

I hate trying to find a card cute enough to write on.  So I buy those stupid little pre-printed thank you cards in packages of 10 at the supermarket with blank innards that are anything but cute.

I hate trying to find the matching envelope that has been buried somewhere in the back of my desk drawer because invariably the cards have gotten separated from the envelopes in the package.

I hate my handwriting (or more accurately, my printing), so I’m actually embarrassed to have someone see how immature and ugly my penmanship is.  I know that anyone who sees it must think to themselves, “How has that woman gotten through life with that horrible handwriting!?!”

In fact, I hate the idea of writing Thank You Notes so much that I’ve totally talked myself into believing that a well crafted, hugely sentimental and well thought-out email more than qualifies as a perfectly valid form of saying “thank you” in lieu of the more formal handwritten Thank You Note.

Case in point (I swear!), as I was in the middle of writing this blog post, the doorbell rang and the postman dropped off a totally unexpected package from my boyfriends’ sister.  She sent me a present for no reason at all (literally…that’s what it said on the card).  OMG…how thoughtful was that!?!  Totally Thank You Note worthy.

And yet, I instantly thought to write an email to her expressing my joy at receiving and opening that unexpected package.  Not for an instant did I think to sit down and write her a note….not even when I’ve got “Thank You Notes” solidly on the brain!

Lazy?  Raised in a Barn?  How about…just damn efficient!

The polite part of me thinks that thank you notes are a great way to show your gratitude and should be written and sent by all.

The other part of me thinks they’re a silly waste of stationary.

As the sender of thank you notes, I feel kind of stupid.  I feel silly sending something that you’re just going to have sitting on your counter or stuck to your refrigerator until spring cleaning rolls around the following year. I have a hard time seeing the value in writing “Thank you Grandma for the 20 bucks for my birthday.  It was very thoughtful.  It was nice.  I bought lunch with it.  Love you!  Xoxoxo!”

When I sent out my thank you notes for graduation, I sort of felt like a fraud.  I was absolutely grateful, but my thank you cards didn’t really express that.

Because really?

How much does an obligatory thank you card really say?

And there’s the key word: obligatory.  The minute I’m expected to send one, I feel like all of the love and kindness gets sucked right out of it.

And the same goes for receiving one: the minute I get one because “it’s the right thing to do” and not because the person really wanted to thank me, it looses some of its charm.

(Side note: am I the only one who feels like I have to write a thank you note for the thank you notes I receive?)

The best thank you notes I’ve gotten have been thanking me for something I didn’t realize I had given.  My best friend once sent me a thank you note after her birthday.  First she said thanks for the book I’d gotten her (which was the right thing to do because it was Twilight and it’s awesome), but then she said how much she appreciated our friendship.  How much my being in her life meant to her.  THAT’S a thank you note that I want.  That’s the kind of thank you note that I’m happy to have on my fridge.  But I wouldn’t even call that a “thank you note”.  It was a letter that expressed her feelings, which meant so much to me.

I just feel there’s a better way, like sincerely thanking the person when they give you the gift.

Or calling and saying how much you love what they did for you.

Or sky writing.

Before you write a thank you note I think that you should ask yourself, “Why am I writing this?”  Then think if there’s a better way to show your gratitude.

And maybe that card is the best way (because sometimes it is), but maybe it’s not…

AND NOW, I can’t write about this without a rant of sorts:

I hate hate HATE when you go to a wedding or baby shower  (basically any gathering of women where a registry is involved) and they make you fill out an envelope so that the woman of honor can easily send you a thank you note.


It takes absolutely any thought and care out of it and I’d rather not have any part in it.  You have my address already since YOU SENT ME AN INVITE.  Do you know how disappointing it is to get a card in the mail with your own handwriting on it?  First, it freaks me out, like I’m getting a message from Past Ally for Future Ally (“Don’t drink the iced tea, Ally, it’s poison.”).  After I realize what it actually is I’m disappointed because I knew the damn thing was coming.

Just thank me for the thing you already knew you were getting (don’t get me started on registries) at the party, and we’ll call it even.

(End rant.)