Manners Monday: Photographic Stress in The Family Shrine

Cherished readers, recently a dear friend came to The Lady for advice on a sticky subject of family photographs. She is an older lady with three children and several grandchildren. Her problem was that two of her children have children with their former spouses, but are now re-married. The bone of contention is this: Her new daughters-in-law both resent the fact that she has family photographs on the wall that still clearly display the old spouse. The Lady’s friend insists that it is her house and that the former spouses will always be the mothers of her grandchildren, so why shouldn’t she display their pictures?

The Lady offered this advice:

Yes, while it is true that one can display any and all pictures that one wishes in their home, The Lady feels that others’ feelings must be considered. The display of pictures of ex-in-laws can certainly send the message that the new spouse is not welcome or taken very seriously by the family and The Lady assumes that her friend is intelligent enough to know that this can cause strife in a marriage. (Do you really want to add another stress to your adult child’s life? It’s hard enough as it is without this petty problem) This advice applies to everyone: Regardless of how you feel about your child’s ex, when they have moved on to a serious relationship, support them and this includes taking down old pictures of the ex. It will go a long way to creating harmony in the family.

Best Framed Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Thursday Ask The Lady: Leaving a Lasting Impression

Cherished readers, this seems to be the time of year when high school seniors are taking their senior portraits. Some seem to be driving their parents crazy as evidenced by this electronic correspondence the Lady received.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett,

I am at my wit’s end trying to convince my daughter that the outfit she has chosen for her senior picture is all wrong and is not the type of thing she will want hanging on the wall for years to come. She is trying to emulate a popular singer and wants to look like one of her recent photos that was plastered all over the news. Help me convince her this is not smart, we have been fighting over this for a week. The photography session is scheduled in two weeks.

Desperate Mother

Dear Desperate Mother,

Oh how The Lady does sympathize with your plight. It is difficult to get through to a headstrong teenager. One hesitates to demand that she dress according to what you feel is best, so let’s try to convince her in other ways.

You could try to explain to her that this picture will live on, not only in your hallway or living room where family portraits are hung, but in the yearbooks of all those she is graduating with and in the school libraries. Basically, this statement she is about to make in her senior picture will live on in perpetuity. The Lady feels that this fact will not sink in with most teenagers because they feel that we ‘old people’ don’t know what we are talking about.

Here is a way that might drive your point home:

When your high school senior is home, take out your yearbook, get a hold of your parents’ yearbooks, any yearbook you can find. Make a game out of looking at all the senior portraits. When you find a fashion victim from the era the yearbook was published, laugh uproariously and point at it and make fun of it. Say something along the line of: “Look at this guy who thought it would be fun to look like Elvis! Bet he wishes he didn’t wear that rhinestone leisure suit today!” or in the Lady’s case, she could find several Blond Ambition-era Madonna wanna-bes in her yearbook and say “I remember poor Phoebe wanted to look like Madonna so bad she wore the missile shaped bra even though you can’t see it in the picture. I bet she wishes she didn’t wear that long fake ponytail now.” What I hope will happen is that the stubborn teen will see rather than be told how ridiculous it is to wear anything in a portrait that pays homage to the popular figures of the moment.

The Lady would suggest that the best outfit for your daughter to wear in a senior portrait is a classic top with a conservative neckline in a solid color. Jewelry should be simple and understated. The young lady shouldn’t make such a fuss if you insist she wear this. I’m sure that she and her friends are all taking selfies of themselves in all manner of costumes. Let this in-good-taste portrait be her gift to you for helping her along as she made her way through the rigors of education. One day, I am sure, she will look back and be thankful that you spared her the embarrassment of a bad decision.

Best Senior Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett.

 

 

A Banshee Roommate: Don’t Be One

Cherished readers, The Lady has an extensive collection of vintage etiquette books that she regularly peruses and consults. I wanted to share this little gem from the 1972 edition of Amy Vanderbilt’s Etiquette (Princess House edition…interestingly, Miss Vanderbilt was a special advisor to the company)

This is from the section The Agreeable Wife, page 624, where Miss Vanderbilt gives advice on being an attractive roommate (I chortle with glee every time I read this section of the book)

“I wonder how many wives could resist rising up in unholy protest if husbands suddenly took to wrapping their heads up in wire and head rags, greasing their faces, tying up their chins, putting on oiled mittens for the night. If a woman has her own room I suppose she can safely dedicate herself to the pursuit of beauty in her sleep, once she is alone. But if she shares her sleeping quarters, she is obliged to make herself an attractive roommate, not a banshee.”

Well. Times have changed, as I know no one who ties up their chin anymore or wears all kinds of hair curlers to bed (OUCH!) but I do think the advice is sound. We shouldn’t ‘let ourselves go’ and should strive to be as attractive as possible for our partners. This applies to both gentlemen and ladies.

Best Banshee Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

When They Won’t Stop Calling

Cherished Readers, during my weekly lunch with some friends, one mentioned that she is in the midst of dealing with a relative who repeatedly calls her at all hours of the day and night to moan, groan, and complain about her problems. She rarely asks after my friend. Her cup of patience is almost empty. She turned to me for guidance and I told her I needed to think about things.  I believe that these types of situations might be common, so after discussing with my friend, she agreed I could share my insights with you. Below you will find what I advised her. Name changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Dorcas, 

I pondered your situation on the drive home and the first thing that I would like to remind you of is the fact that your phone, be it your landline or cell, is for your convenience only and not for anyone else’s. You are entirely within your rights to only answer the phone when it is convenient for you. I know that you felt guilty letting it go to voice mail so often, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

I am very dismayed that this person only seeks out your listening ear to vent and spew complaints and never asks how you are. 

BUT, and it is a big BUT (not like Kardashian sized, but big nonetheless) if you are the only person who listens to her, perhaps there may be an emotional problem that she is suffering from and your being there for her is helping her. Because she is family, I would not cut ties with her; but I would be very honest with her and inform her that because you and your family are very busy there must be a set time when you will take calls. Give her one or two times during the week that you will speak to her and explain that if she calls out of those times, you will not be answering. If there is an emergency, she may text or email. You must control the situation while being loving and considerate. 

I feel that one can set boundaries and still be a good friend and we lose nothing by extending these courtesies. In fact, you may find you regain your sanity when dealing with her. 

Best Telephone Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

A Question of Asparagus

Cherished readers, The Lady was pleased to find this electronic correspondence while she sipped coffee this morning.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

I am a busy mom with three young sons. I have tried to teach them correct table manners. During our weekly Try-A-New-Food night meal, I served asparagus to them for the first time. I had instructed them that they could eat the asparagus spears with their fingers, but my husband told me that he felt this wasn’t correct. Do you know?

Signed,

Trying My Best 

Dear Trying My Best,

You ask if I know the answer and The Lady humbly says….why, yes, I do.

You may use the side of your fork to gently cut the soft part of the asparagus spear, impale it on the fork, and then convey it to your mouth. This method is preferred in most conservative circles, especially if the asparagus is quite soft and has been covered in some type of sauce.

If, however, the stalks are firm with the sauce only applied to the tops, you may properly pick the spears up with your fingers and eat the soft edible part down to the tough part of the spear. You would then neatly place the devoured stalks on the side of your plate.

You did not reveal to The Lady how you served this noble vegetable to your family, so I cannot say whether or not your husband was wrong in correcting you. I do commend you most effusively for introducing your sons to new foods. I am sure they are on their way to being cultured gentlemen.

Best Mealtime Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

 

When The Lady Was Calm Even Though She Was Shaking Inside

Cherished readers, today’s blog will have less to do with manners and more to do with me needing to talk about what happened this week. Lord Hooper-Brackett and I discussed the situation this morning and he told me he wanted me to write about it.

Lord Hooper-Brackett had a STEMI-type heart attack on Monday and had to have a stent inserted and treatment for the blockage. This happened very suddenly in the morning and the symptoms at the time were vague to start off,  but when he told me that he had pain in his arm, chest, and jaw there was no doubt that he needed to get to the ER. And thankfully, that is what he immediately did…he drove himself to the ER.  We were on the phone and then he told me they were taking him in and he’d call when he could. I remained calm for his sake, because panic doesn’t help anything.

This began the longest hour I’ve ever spent. It is hell to not know what is going on.

An hour later he called to tell me that he had a 90% blockage, they put a stent in, and he was now in recovery. He was surprisingly calm…almost matter of fact. I, too, was calm. It was only when we hung up that the weight of what happened hit me. I broke down privately.

My emotions have been all over the place this week. From fear to thankfulness to relief to worry. And on and on. I spent one day getting upset about all of the what ifs that could have happened. This morning we talked about how I tried to be calm for him and he told me he was trying to be calm for me.

This is the ultimate in putting another at ease: being scared, but not wanting the person you love to be scared. It is needless to say, I am beyond thankful today.

Best Grateful Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

The Lady’s Absence

Cherished readers, I apologize for my absence this last week. There was, unfortunately, a medical emergency in The Hooper-Brackett family and in addition to my time being taken up with those matters, my mind has not been on writing. Things should be back to normal tomorrow and I will return with a fresh blog post.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best Thankful Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett