Sunday, November 27, 2011

Things I am Not Thankful For

So the day of gratitude has come and gone. And hopefully your Thanksgiving was wonderful: gathered with loved (or at least tolerated) ones, sharing a traditional meal, pondering the things for which we are thankful. All good.

But what if there were a day on which we were given the chance to express the things we are NOT thankful for. In essence, the things we would like to eradicate.

I'll start. Here's my sixpack:

1. People who litter. Now, I am not by nature a violent person, but seeing a person toss his gum wrapper, or worse, a cigarette butt onto the sidewalk, makes me so aggravated I almost want to commit assault. Hmm...would that be aggravated assault?

2. Cell Phone Grunts. I know I've addressed this before. Here too. But the scourge continues.

3. Discourtesy in general. This is a mighty broad topic, but let's narrow it to the basics: say please and thank you; hold the door for someone; say excuse me when you inadvertently bump someone or unavoidably invade personal space; respond when addressed.

4. Superiority Complexes. Ok, so Dr. Freud might not sanction this as an actual term, but you know what I mean. People who think they are better than everyone else because they do Kung Fu-Hot Power Yoga-Boot Camp-Sprintathons/eat only organic seaweed harvested by blind Malayan fishermen/drive a Hummer (or Prius)/wear couture/belong to (or eschew) a certain club....and the list goes on. Do what makes you happy, provided it doesn't hurt anyone else, and shut up about it!

5. Hypocrites. I think I would prefer Thanksgiving dinner with a terrorist or mass murderer than I would a hypocrite. Especially one with a Superiority Complex.

6. Lack of Humor. Can we put all the humorless people together on one miserable island and make them watch Modern Family until they learn to laugh? Impractical, I know, but I bet it would work.

What are some of the thing you aren't thankful for?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Etiquette Dilemmas

If Thanksgiving Day is here, can etiquette dilemmas be far behind? Here are two challenging scenarios and how a Grace would handle them.....

It's noon on TG. The turkey is still in the sink. It's still frozen. You have twelve people arriving at 4:00.

First of all, Remain Calm. No situation ever improves with panic or loss of temper. One way to expedite the thawing process is to put the frozen bird into a large sink or tub and run cold water over it. This is not instantaneous, and your dinner will still be delayed, but it will speed things up. If that's insufficient, or your guests have planes to catch, make some phone calls--most towns have a few reputable take-out food purveyors and you might get lucky and locate an unclaimed turkey, even at this late hour. Whole Foods, gourmet grocers, caterers, the local deli, even Boston Market might rescue you. You can also try restaurants and hotels. Anyplace that is vaguely American or Continental is serving turkey today and might just sell you one--for a price. If that fails, head to the grocery store--most are open for at least part of the day. You can pick up a few turkey breasts (not frozen!) and turkey legs, and roast them the same way you intended to roast the iceberg currently not thawing in your kitchen sink--but much, much faster. Alternatively, Chinese takeout is a viable option. No matter what route you choose, keep your sense of humor and hold your head high. These things happen, even to Graces, and what separates us from the Grunts is how we handle them.

Here are some more troubleshooting turkey tips:

Your adult brother and sister aren't speaking (really not speaking, like one walks out of the room when the other appears), but are both coming to family TG.

Ain't families grand? As a host, it is well within your scope to require civility from guests, particularly those related to you by blood. Call the siblings ahead of time. Express understanding and empathy (even if it's manufactured) for their respective positions. Then ask (firmly) that they suspend their hostility for the day in the spirit of Thanksgiving and for the comfort and ease of their fellow guests. They don't have to be teammates--or worse, opponents--in the family touch football game. (Under the circs, it might be best to bench them both.) They should be required to summon up a small degree of civility. Call the more reasonable of the warring parties. Tell him/her: "I am getting ready to call Bro/Sis to demand that (s)he behave at my Thanksgiving table; will you agree to a 24 hour cease-fire?" Make the same call to the other one, hopefully with the ability to say "I have already spoken to X. S/he is willing to suspend open combat at Thanksgiving. I hope I can count on you for the same." If the two of them are absolutely unwilling or unable to make this temporary adjustment, you are absolutely within your rights to request their absence.

OR.....Invite them in shifts. Have Sis for dinner and Bro for dessert. Inform them both that you are staggering their visits to avoid any explosions over the turkey.

So, Happy Thanksgiving, Graces!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Kardashian Divorce, No Etiquette Required

Much as I am horrified by this shameless escapade, I have to weigh in. There seems to be significant confusion with regard to the gift aspect of things, so here are some observations....

One school of thought dictates that a gift is a gift. Regardless of what the recipient does with it, or what the result of the bestowing occasion may be, you've handed over the item and neither it nor its fate are in your hands.

There is another school of thought, however, that says if a wedding is a ridiculous sham whose sole aim is a 72-day long charade designed to generate publicity, revenue, and loot, then said loot should be returned to the apparently duped guests.

Because a wedding celebrates the union of two people as they start a life together, and the gifts are intended to help the couple equip their home. Clearly Kim and Kris's wedding does not fit this description. (Would he have still been selected if his name had been Chris, I wonder.)

And no, I am not putting up any pictures of them.

Channel 3 asked my opinion; here's what I said.