|A Season of Thanksgiving
As we put away the costumes from Halloween, soon we will be polishing silver and getting the table ready for perhaps the most important holiday celebration of the year, Thanksgiving.
This is a season of reflection as we re-enact many of the rituals and traditions unique to our families over the years. What many fail to realize is how important and valuable these rituals are in raising our children. On this special day, family and friends join together in support and love for each other, an expression of the graciousness of what life truly is all about.
We realize that because of the deep rooted meaning of this holiday, many may experience anxiety as this most important day approaches. From the hostess who wants everything to be just perfect, to the father who may be uncomfortable with his estranged son, life is not perfect for any of us. We realize this all so well for no one is immune to tragedy or sadness within the family structure. Through our guidelines we are committed to helping you make this one of the most memorable holidays ever for your family and loved ones. We are anxious to share with you what we have learned.
Wishing you all warm celebrations and the best of health from our homes to yours!
Welcome to Impressions
In every issue of “Impressions” we offer you diverse ways to experience etiquette. Take a peak at our Etiquette Recipe of the month where you’ll find the ten top ingredients for enjoying a perfect holiday feast! Don’t miss Just for Kids and discover creative ways to make this season fun and educational. Join Diane and Lisa in our Tea Room Discussion, as we transform that special day into one that will be remembered by all. Visit Grandmother’s Wisdom where one’s attitude directly determines the outcome. Grace Notes answers those burning questions aiding all of us in avoiding those most embarrassing faux pas! Features highlights a recent Los Angeles Times article about an extraordinary football team of courageous young men who have dedicated their season to the Marines from Camp Pendleton. Lastly, we wish to hear from you our dear readers and supporters. Please send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
May your first impression be not only positive, but lasting.
We have assembled here the key ingredients to insure a perfect holiday affair!
1. The more you are able to be yourself, the greater the gift to your guests. Even if only family members surround the table, and all the pre-planning has been completed, oftentimes we cannot control circumstances that may interrupt the meal. Stop thinking about making everything perfect, relax and genuinely listen and be attentive to your guests. Rule: if you are anxious your guests will be uncomfortable too!
- Plan in advance your menu selection and table décor. Create a warm and comfortable environment. Turn the television and cell phones off and choose an array of pre-selected soothing music for background.
- Preparation is crucial to success. Polish your silverware and set the table days before the cooking begins. This will help you keep a calm and relaxed pace as you ease into the big day.
- Adults and children should be “dressed” appropriately for the occasion. This does not mean your “dress” is necessarily formal attire, but it should be stylish and comfortable and show that you have made an effort.
- Preserve your family traditions and encourage your children to participate.
- Teach young men the etiquette of pulling out the chair for a lady.
- Keep proper posture while sitting at the table and no elbows on the table.
- When initiating a toast, do not fret on memorizing a special quote. At the Thanksgiving meal, what you say from the heartis always more meaningful.
- Wait until everyone has been served before beginning to eat and be aware if your family has a tradition of saying grace.
- A few reminders: Never ask to be excused, unless you must attend the restroom. Wait until your hostess invites you to join her in the living or family room where it is more comfortable to have coffee or dessert. It is perfectly acceptable to fall asleep on the couch after enjoying such a scrumptious meal for that is part of the Thanksgiving tradition, right?!
Just For Kids
Thanksgiving planning can be at once fun, and a little stressful. Oftentimes, we neglect to involve our children in the process of the care and preparation of this wonderful feast. Choose this holiday to make an effort to include your children in all facets of preparation. Blow the dust off the Emily Post book and show them the photo on how to set the table or view our sample Formal Dinner and Buffet Place Setting Guides below. Table setting is an art and with a little assistance and encouragement even your smallest helpers will set your table perfectly!
With young children it is always a great tradition for them to re-enact for the family the first Thanksgiving feast of the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. Allow them to make their hats and turkeys and plan their performance. This provides great fun for the children in their planning and creates joyful memories for all!
Check out our resource section for ideas on crafts and things your little ones can make for this special day!
Place Setting Guide - Formal Dinner
Place Setting Guide - Buffet
Tea Room Discussion
Perhaps it will be this year that we will direct our focus on showing how much we care about our family and friends. All families have challenges, after all we are human beings, but it is during the holidays that these challenges may seem heightened and cause many of us to be feel more anxious and even dread the days that are fast approaching. Here are some guidelines that will hopefully help to bring harmony and healing to your unique family situation.
- The value of acceptance. We cannot choose the way others may treat us, however, we can choose what our attitude will be and our reaction to any conflict that may arise. Accept the situation for what it is, but choose to be respectful and dignified.
- The value of listening. Relationships can be very complicated especially when this concerns families. Oftentimes we really do not listen for we are unwilling to change our perspective. The secret however, is that just the very act of being sincere and listening attentively does reduce the level of discord and begins the process of healing.
- The value of the big picture. We live in a very dangerous and violent world. We need only read or listen to the news to know this is true. Many times we stay within our cocoon of existence without realizing what tomorrow may bring. Life is but a whisper, and we need to keep this in mind and be more reflective, especially during this time of year.
- The value of forgiveness. The greatest gift of all is our ability to forgive one another for the hurt and grief they may have caused. Through forgiveness we free ourselves from the weight within our hearts that like a hammer pound away at our life force. You can choose to forgive thus freeing your spirit to regain its rightful place in the field of joy.
These suggestions are not easy, but always remember, you are part of the human experience so therefore you are not alone. We share your grief and through our connection with you we trust this brings you courage to face the issues forthcoming with dignity and grace.
“The holiest of all holidays are those kept in silence and apart, the secret anniversaries of the heart.” Longfellow
There is no other holiday as important as Thanksgiving. As I reflect over my many years, I cannot tell you how important family traditions and rituals are for your children. As we see even within the United States, with the eradication of American national rituals, there is a slow eating away of what made our country great. Tradition and rituals are the glue for all human existence, they are the basis of dignity and respect for civil society.
As a child, one of the rituals within my home was that my mother would always invite someone to join us at the Thanksgiving who would have otherwise perhaps been alone for the holidays. This was standard operating procedure though now I can appreciate this magnificent gesture of kindness and sharing.
Thanksgiving is so valuable since it is a time to celebrate and connect with each other without the trappings of the glitter of gifts that so tarnish the very essence of human connection. As I reflect, allow me to share with you my thoughts which I hope will transform your thinking in approaching this particular holiday with a bit more reverence and grace.
- Slow down and allow time for reflection even if for ten minutes each day.
- Within this 10 minute “reflection time” mentally give thanks for all of your blessings.
- From a state of thankfulness, be determined to do just one little thing for another person this day even if it is a simple telephone call. Connect with someone you know who is in need.
- Try to not be self-centered, but rather other-centered. In other words, stop thinking about your wants and needs and refocus your attention on others for a change. You will be surprised how your life will be transformed with this little adjustment which at first may not be easy, but with time you will become a more joyful person.
- Things are not often as they appear to be. There is always another angle in what you may interpret as happening. There are varying interpretations to most any issue and try to discipline your mind to realize that there is more to the situation than what meets the eye - herein resides wisdom from the ancients.
- Take time this season for yourself and also for those you love by trying a few of these affirmations:
- The dishes are in the sink, but I will cuddle with my child and read her a story.
- I am running late for my appointment, but I am going to relax and take a deep breath and remember that if I am a few minutes late, it is okay.
- The dessert that I spent hours making did not turn out as I had planned! I will laugh and stay in the richness of the moment.
- All hurdles and obstacles thrown my way are life’s snowballs rich in wisdom. I will be more joyful as I realize another lesson learned this day.
- I will not take myself so seriously and I do not always have to be right!
- I will cup those little hands to my cheeks and smother them with kisses for one day I will wake up and they will be grown and gone.
- I will write a small note to my spouse or significant other saying, “I Love You” for such honor and respect should always be given to the people who protect and secure the family unit and make it whole.
Enjoy this season whatever your circumstances for the world can be changed by one kind act beginning with you!
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Grace Notes Patio
Now for the good stuff! We have collected those questions you have asked to help you get through this Thanksgiving holiday season. Don’t panic, we are here to help! See if you can answer these questions correctly. No peeking!
1. If invited as a guest to someone’s home for Thanksgiving, do I have to bring a gift?
2. I really don’t like turkey, should I tell the hostess?
3. There will be twelve people seated around our dinner table. Do I have to wait until everyone is served before I may begin eating? If I do my turkey and stuffing will get cold!
4. My ex wants to come with my son and me to my parents home for Thanksgiving. He is my son’s father, but we really do not get along. Help, what should I do?
5. When is the proper time to give a Thanksgiving toast?
6. As a guest after the dinner, is it appropriate for me to help clear the table and clean up in the kitchen?
7. What do I do if someone uses my butter plate?
8. When dessert is served, do I have to take a small portion if I really don’t want any?
9. The proper way of serving yourself from the serving tray is to serve your portion first then ask the person sitting next to you if they would also like a serving. True or False?
10. In today’s modern world, the man, sitting next to a woman, does not have to get out of his chair and assist her as she leaves the table. True or False?
- It is always an act of kindness to bring a gift when invited to someone’s home for dinner whether or not it is a special holiday. Flowers, chocolate or wine are always appropriate. If you know the person well, you will be able to make an even better gift selection. Remember as your mother always said, “it is the thought that counts” rather than the gift itself.
- Even if you do not like turkey, allow a small portion to be served on your plate. Do not tell the hostess for you would not wish to upset her. You do not have to eat it, but remain silent so not to offend.
- One always must wait until all have been served before eating. Generally when there is a large table the hostess may express to please go ahead and begin eating. This would be the only time that you would begin to eat before others were served.
- Thanksgiving is a very special family time and as adults we need to bury the hatchet if for only this one day in order to preserve peace and harmony within the family, especially when children are involved. So be pleasant and respectful. Do not engage in angry conversation as this would be rude and upsetting to all who attended.
- The first toast is generally done by the host or hostess and directed to the group or a person of honor. The toast during a Thanksgiving celebration can be delivered at any time even at the very beginning when all are seated.
- General rule of etiquette is that you as the guest do not get up to clear the table and help in the kitchen. However, many times part of the family tradition is for all to assist in clearing the table and cleaning up. This is entirely up to the host or hostess and is perfectly acceptable either way.
- Good manners often means not pointing out the mistakes of others. Don’t bring attention to the fact that someone mistakenly is using your butter plate. Go ahead and use another butter plate or simply place your roll and butter on your entrée plate.
- With dessert you can politely decline by graciously saying,” No thank you.” The only exception is if it is Aunt Nelly’s famous recipe that she has made for everyone. In that case select a small portion and take just a bite.
- False: You always ask the person sitting next to you if they wish a portion first. Always serve yourself after serving another even if you had requested the platter.
- False. A man always rises and assists a lady as she begins her exit from the table. This is one rule that has remained even in our modern times!
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Mater Dei finds a bigger purpose than football
We encourage you to read this link to the November 7, 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times with regards to this group of football players who have dedicated their season to a group of Marines who are fighting in Iraq and whose families are stationed at the Marine Corp military base in Camp Pendleton, California.
These wonderful young men have raised over $100,000 to be distributed to these Marine Corp families. They have provided camps for the children, created volleyball fields for them to play and built and painted buildings for these families.
In helping these families, many of the players themselves have been changed forever. We are proud to feature these magnificent teen boys who truly exemplify what is great about our nation and who most definitely will be among our leaders for tomorrow.
Please take a moment to read the complete article and share with your family Thanksgiving Day.
http://www.Netflix.com – Recommendations for light Thanksgiving viewing:
“Home for the Holidays”, “Hannah & Her Sisters”, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”, “The Family Stone”, “Funny Farm”