Destination Trick or Treating



Traditionally, trick or treating involves unattended children dragging a treat bag along leaf-covered sidewalks and knocking on the doors of their neighbors. The first change to this iconic, Its-the-great-pumpkin-Charlie-Brown-style institution came when parents began accompanying their children, hanging back in the shadows, as children rang the doorbell and collected some type of individually wrapped candy. Now, there is another, rapidly growing yet mildly disturbing trend: destination trick or treating

Families pile into their cars, leaving their own houses darkened, possibly with a forlorn basket of candy on the doorstep, and head to a “good” Halloween neighborhood, with a reputation for elaborate decorations, dressed up hosts, and supersize candy handouts. A trick-or-treat destination with buzz, hype, and cachet, where their offspring will be sure to score a lot of loot, probably more than they could possibly eat, and win bragging rights on the playground. 

Halloween in Beacon Hill, MA. Image from flicker.com
Why? Why do families feel the need to seek bigger and better? Why isn’t one’s own neighborhood enough? Is candy so ubiquitous now, especially around Halloween, that visiting a few houses and scoring a few “party size” candy bars and lollipops just isn’t enough or perhaps parents can’t trust that it might be. Perhaps suburban sprawl has pushed neighbors so far apart to make walking house to house onerous, and forcing families to seek out older, denser communities. Or, possibly, people invest so little in their own neighborhoods, they seek to become part of a thriving vibrant local community, even if only for one night. 

Yes, there are families who live in locales isolated or rural enough to require a Halloween car trip. But I like to imagine they seek a good-enough Halloween neighborhood - no elaborate displays, no full-sized candy bar hand outs, just a place they can walk house to house. So perhaps I am just lucky, lucky enough to live in a such good-enough Halloween neighborhood. No hype and certainly no crowds arriving by car, but the neighbors are usually home, with a bowl of candy at the ready. Neighborhood children rattle bags full of candy as they walk along, glow sticks swinging, and usually (but not always) remember to say, “Thank you Mrs. Brigham. Happy Halloween!” 

Friday Frivolity: Questions for the really useful engine.


Thomas the Tank Engine, along with Dora the Explorer and Elmo, remains one of our culture’s inescapable children’s television characters. If some experience with the Thomas and Friends is unavoidable, perhaps questions about the nature of life on the Island of Sodor are too. Who hasn’t wondered how a train can be part human, part machine? Or what is Sir Topham Hat’s relationship to Thomas? Parent? Boss? Owner? None has probed these questions so humorously as J.J.Keith, who applied her skills as an anthropology major in this open letter to Thomas.  Seriously sidesplitting humor here. Who says you can’t use an anthropology major?

Many thanks to Lisa for sending this along. Have a wonderful weekend!


The lonely shopping cart


Mothers often talk of tears in their eyes as they send their youngest child off to pre-school, or kindergarten, but I never felt particularly vulnerable to such sentiments. Earlier this fall, as my youngest child (age 3.5) finally headed off to a 5 day preschool, I never stopped to wonder if I would feel a pang. I was ready to have time to myself, to go for a run, meet someone for coffee, and most of all, I was ready to move on to the next stage.

The days are long, but the years are short, yadda, yadda, yadda. I didn’t think I would be lamenting the change. Until now. Surprisingly, I find myself uneasy with the quiet mornings, the silence in the car, and most of all, I feel lonesome on companionless trips to the grocery store. I miss the child in the cart, sometimes grabbing, wiggling, screaming, but more often chatty, lovable, and genuine good company.

I know: It’s only preschool. I have years of milestones to come: kindergarten, sleep away camp, first mobile phone, the list goes on. But I also know it feels like only a year or two has passed since my 7th grader started pre-school. So yes, those years are short, no matter how long the days seem.

*photo taken my me, this very morning, as I shopped behind a mother with 3 children in tow and actually found myself feeling nostalgic.

Interruptis Totalus


Photo by Doug Mills/New York Times

 After last night's debate (a word that is too civilized to be applied to the sound-bite-ridden, accusation and interruption fest we saw) the well mannered modern mother may be forgiven for not wanting anything to do with either presidential candidate.  Or she might be thinking "If I want to see people being uncouth, impolite and accusatory I'll just watch Jersey Shore thank you very much." 

While we are aware that many supporters wanted the candidates to be "more aggressive" in this second debate - apparently last week's Vice Presidential talk-over, face-contortion event wasn't enough for the truly argumentative - we can't help but think both presidential candidates came off looking rude, belligerent and undignified.

 Given how one must (apparently) behave and the things he/she must do to be elected to the office, is it any wonder so few people want the job?




Weekend Happiness

As the dust settles from a whirlwind of soccer, epic playmobil battles, Sunday school, and failed attempts to purchase a shelving system for the heap of sports equipment in our basement, I was relived to find myself sitting in a quiet house this Monday morning. As much as I love weekends for family time, I am also frequently stunned at the sheer exhaustion I feel on Sunday night. Not surprisingly, statistics suggest I am not alone: parents report less happiness on weekends than non-parents. Go figure. The good news is that we can all attempt to change this dynamic, and Dr. Christine Carter, of the Raising Happiness blog, offers 3 ways to make weekends happier in this post. Read it now, and start planning now for your new, relaxed weekends. Oh, and maybe you’ll also want to cross your fingers for rain cancellations for all those sports commitments, just for good measure.

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say...

Of course we all know the rest of this old adage.   If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. 

There is also, sadly, the tacky, snarky version to be found on someecards and needle point pillows. 



The thing the mannerly mother finds difficult to understand about the pillow is - is this something one would purchase for herself? 

image from Google images

 Because, how on earth could one ever give - or worse - receive such a gift?  "Dear Sally, I saw this pillow and thought of you - you back-talking, gossipy, so and so. xoxo Bunny"  As the receiver of such a gift would one say "Oh thank you Bunny, you know how much I love being unkind and catty.  This is just perfect!"  Perhaps one just needs to be in the right mood.

In our case, it isn't that we don't have anything nice to say these days, we just don't seem to have time to say much of anything.  So, please know, we are thinking of our blog and hope to find more time and topics in the near future.

In the meantime, if your house is anything like our house, the delicate (and not so delicate) art of costume negotiation is in full swing.  Hope this vintage M4MM piece helps.

Quote of the Week

A mannerly friend forwarded this wonderful quote to us last week.  Where did she get it?  From her own mannerly mother of course!

image courtesy of WallyHood.org

Emily Post wrote in 1922 that “One who possesses truly fine manners has more than mere beauty; she has infinite charm. She is so well born that she is charming to everyone. Her manner to a Duke who happens to be staying in the house is not a bit more courteous than her manner to the kitchen maid who she chances to meet in the gardens” 

Manners are merely tools to help us live a code (of kindness and consideration). Beneath its myriad rules, the fundamental purpose of etiquette is to make the world a pleasanter place and you a more pleasant person. First, they smooth the paths between us and other people, to establish a pleasant relationship from the first – that’s why introductions, “pleases” and “Thank yous” are so important. Second, knowing the guidelines of good manners gives us self- confidence. We are more comfortable if we know what to do. And Third, manners make us more attractive people. A dinner guest who engages in animated conversation with asparagus spears protruding from his mouth isn’t very attractive. And who doesn’t want to look better in the eyes of others? 

“The purpose of manners is to make the other person comfortable with you, to establish rapport so the person is happy about being with you. ”As Professor Henry Higgins put it in Pygmalion, “The great secret is not having bad manners or good manners, but having the same manners for all human souls” 

Authors Unknown
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