Tag Archive | etiquette

How to be the “Perfect” Vintage Housewife

Hello Darlings!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having a gloriously productive January. Spring fever is starting to set in, so I thought I would take advantage and participate in Apartment Therapy’s The January cure. I can’t begin to describe how much I love it… but I’m going to anyway.

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I very much loathe a household out of order. I can’t think straight surrounded by clutter. I’m not so much a clean freak as I am a person who feels put off by disarray. Spring cleaning, while therapeutic, can also be overwhelming! Where do I start? What needs doing? What am I missing? The January cure has been enormously helpful in guiding me through the process. Without it, I’d probably be scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush while the rest of my house fell to pieces! But today’s post really isn’t about the January Cure. Today I’d like to share with you my daily tasks as a real life (modern) vintage housewife. But first we need to address the history of the “1950’s housewife” archetype.

The 1950’s Housewife: Symbol of Misogyny… or was she?

Anytime someone brings up “my look” as it relates to misogyny in the before times, my eyes roll (not really, that would be terribly rude). The fact is, popular culture, media, and entertainment have given us this idea that  women of the 1950’s were enslaved in their homes, forced to cater to their husband’s every whim, completely devoid of pleasure or enjoyment. She is a lovely and sad creature. She is The Stepford Wives, Mad Men, and Mona Lisa Smile. Or was she?

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This little image has made it’s rounds on the interwebs for ages. It serves as a reminder as to how awful men and the times were… except it’s a hoax.

The truth is, the 1950’s housewife wasn’t at all unlike women today. My grandmothers, for instance, had jobs. They were divorced and remarried. They lived lives, day to day, like  other women. Then, and now, women make choices. We choose the paths we want to walk. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Some women marry honorable men, some marry real jerks, some don’t get married at all. Some go to school, some work outside the home, some choose to be homemakers. And while, yes, the role of most women in the before times was that of homemaker, not every woman followed this path. The point is, we should be wary of falling for stereotypes as they are rarely ever true.

How to be the “Perfect” Vintage Housewife

 

Alright, this title is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at our vision of the Donna Reed homemaker. Truth is, pigeons, there is no such thing as “perfect”. It doesn’t exist. Striving for an unattainable goal will only make you feel like a failure, so STOP IT! Instead, I like to think of “perfect” more as improved. What am I doing daily to make my home better?

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I will be the first to tell you I am extremely privileged to be a full-time homemaker. While technically self-employed, I consider myself, first and foremost, a homemaker. I had a wonderful career in animal and behavioral sciences spanning 20 years, and when my Mr got his promotion and subsequent transfer, it was the perfect time for me to retire. I tell you this so when you see my daily task list, you don’t freak out. My job is to care for my home. If I worked outside of the home, I wouldn’t get half of these things done! My daily tasks, on paper, look never ending! It looks like I do nothing but scrub and clean, but that isn’t entirely true either. Because I keep up on these tasks every day, I have all kinds of time to indulge in a hobby, take a nap, binge watch a season of whatever on Netflix, and some days skip cleaning entirely. Because I don’t let my house fall apart, taking care of it isn’t too much work at all. I also enlist help. My son has chores. My Mr, even after working a twelve hour day, will pitch in. Nothing in our home is ever viewed as “mom’s job”. When something needs doing, someone does it. Simple as that.

I’ve compiled my daily task list on not only the things related to my home specifically, but also on the myriad of housekeeping and etiquette books I’ve amassed though the years. Keep in mind, my list is tailored to my home and my family. Feel free to use it as inspiration for your own task list. Remember, perfection doesn’t exist. The “perfect” housewife is merely one who cares for her home and the people (and pets) in it.

Dolly Marlowe’s Guide for the “Perfect” Vintage Housewife (pdf)

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XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

 

Holiday Greeting Etiquette

Hello Darlings!

Now that Hallowe’en is over, my thoughts wander to family feasts, snow, and sugar plums. As joyful as the holidays are for many people, there are also some humbugs out there. Between the over commercializing of Christmas, Black Friday extended into Thanksgiving, and some very recent political ugliness in the US (and abroad), I thought this would be an excellent time to talk about holiday greeting etiquette.

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For the last few years there have been a number of silly controversies popping up, from the color and style of coffee cups to exactly what greetings people are allowed to offer to wether or not there is a cultural war on Christmas. I honestly believe these controversies are given life because too many people are unaware there are actual standards of etiquette that go along with the holidays, well, that and some people could benefit from a hobby.

So, let’s discuss appropriate holiday greetings. Its important to remember there are many holidays reflecting many religions and cultures during the latter part of the year. Good manners dictates we be mindful of the person we are greeting. The greetings we offer are for them, not us.

 

What to Say to Whom

Verbal greetings are by far the trickiest of the holiday greetings. Unlike cards, we offer verbal greetings to everyone, friend and stranger alike. Because holidays are rooted in religious and cultural traditions, holiday greetings for strangers take a moderate amount of presumption. Some presumptions are safe, others not so much.

Before Thanksgiving, usually starting the week of, I say “Happy holidays” because I am including the pending holiday of Thanksgiving as well as the following holidays of Christmas and the New Year. A simple “Happy Thanksgiving” is also appropriate. Most Americans observe Thanksgiving in some fashion, and because it is the cultural norm, it is an appropriate greeting for friends and strangers.

Once Thanksgiving is over, we then greet with the coming holidays in mind. Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Al-Hijira, Ashura, and Yule are all observed at the end of the Gregorian calendar year, making greetings to a stranger a bit more difficult. Remember, your greeting is for the benefit of the person to whom you are speaking, so it should speak to their point of view.

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There are some things we can safely presume. If you live in the western world, Christmas is the predominant holiday. In modern times Christmas has taken on a more secular role in society. I come from a multi-faith family (Christian and Jewish). Many of my Jewish family members  send Christmas gifts, have a Christmas tree, and so on. To them, Christmas is more of an American cultural holiday than a Christian one. The majority of the American population observes the Christmas holiday in some way, whether it be religious, secular, or a mixture of both. It is ,therefor, perfectly fine to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” if there is no obvious indication the person you are greeting celebrates something else.

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The Kwanzaa Kinara

If you do see an obvious indication that Christmas is not the holiday they observe, feel free to greet them with something specific to their worldview. For instance, if you meet a man wearing a yarmulke, it’s ok to wish him a “Happy Chanukah”. It is worth noting the Jewish yarmulke and the Muslim taqiyah may look similar to those unfamiliar with those particular headpieces. When in doubt, a friendly “Happy holidays” is good option as well as the non-holiday related “Have a nice day”. Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Al-Hijira, Ashura, and Yule are their own holidays with their own religious and cultural significance. They are not stand-ins for Christmas and should not be treated as such.The thing you certainly do NOT want to do is assume a holiday preference based on a person’s color or ethnicity! Do not assume because a person is black they celebrate Kwanzaa. Likewise offering up a “Happy Chanukah” to someone because they “look Jewish” is deeply offensive. Again, the greeting isn’t for you, it’s for them.

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A Finnish Yule Card

Offenses

What if you are the person offended by a misguided greeting? Suck it up. No, really. Most people don’t mean any offense when they say the wrong thing and should not be punished or made to feel embarrassed for it. Etiquette is all about making those around us feel comfortable. You can either graciously accept the greeting and return it or offer something neutral like, “Happy holidays” instead. NEVER reprimand or admonish a greeting and NEVER use a greeting as a verbal weapon, EVER! If you do, YOU are the Grinch, no one else.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Last year I was doing some Christmas shopping when I overheard a cashier give out a cheerful greeting, the woman to whom she was speaking promptly snatched her receipt from the cashier and snapped, “It’s (insert holiday here)!”. **Im intentionally leaving out the exact exchange for two reasons. #1. It doesn’t matter, slide in any number of greetings and retorts, but the outcome is still the same. The person rebuking the greeting was in the wrong. She was rude. Period. #2. I don’t want your personal bias, and we are all of us biased, to taint the way you view the transaction. A friendly, but (unintentionally) incorrect greeting was offered. It was rebuked. While the greeting may have been incorrect, there was no malice. The rebuke, however was full of malice, and therefor the one that violates the laws good manners. 

What if you have inadvertently offended someone? Apologize as you would any other time, even if the other party is behaving in a particularly nasty way, still offer up a sincere apology. “I’m terribly sorry. I meant no offense. I hope you have a very (happy, merry, etc)…” is a nice way to defuse a potentially uncomfortable situation. Don’t flog yourself. Apologize, smile, and them move on.

The holidays are meant to be a time of generosity and goodwill to our fellow man. We can all do our bit by just being friendly. I hope your holidays are full of laughter, good food, and good cheer.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

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Lighting the menorah with my little boy.

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

 

 

 

 

 

Honoring the Fallen. Memorial Day Etiquette.

Hello Darlings!

The weather is warming, the flowers are blooming, and summer is nipping at our heels. It’s nearly time for BBQs and pool parties. For many, the three day weekend, known here in the USA as Memorial Day Weekend, is the unofficial kick-off to the summer season. Through the years and the BBQs and the extra day off work, the true meaning of Memorial Day has been lost. I cringe every time I hear “Happy Memorial Day”, a personal peeve of mine. In an effort to make the world (or at least my little corner of it) a more polite place, I’d like to share some important Memorial Day etiquette tips.

 

I have had the extreme pleasure and honor to work with some of the finest men and women on the planet, the men and women of the United States military. Through my charity work with the Pinup Patriettes I’ve learned a great deal about the sometimes complex  realm of military etiquette. Memorial Day etiquette, however, isn’t military etiquette. Memorial Day etiquette is something every single American should know. Sadly, the majority of Americans don’t know the first thing about Memorial Day, save for summer parties and store sales. Many Americans believe Memorial Day is a day to honor veterans and active duty military members. Not so. Memorial Day is the day that we honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We honor the fallen.

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The Pinup Patriettes volunteering at the Veterans + Labor food drive

Memorial Day was first observed after the Civil War when on May 30th, then known as Decoration Day, citizens would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. Fast forward 100 + years, Memorial Day is now observed on the last Monday of May to honor the sacrifice of every American man and woman who have given their lives in the service of their nation. It is a solemn day, a sobering reminder of the cost of war and the price of freedom. So here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind this Memorial Day.

Do observe Memorial Day. It is proper to say you are observing Memorial Day rather than celebrating it. There are many ways to observe the holiday and honor the fallen: attend a Memorial Day service at a local cemetery, watch a Memorial Day procession (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a parade), volunteer with a local group to place flags on the graves of fallen veterans, even attend a patriotic bbq or pool party, whatever you do, keep the true meaning of the day present. Remember, someone gave their life for your three day weekend.

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Memorial Day observances in cemeteries are becoming more and more scarce as people forget the reason for their three day weekend. If you have an opportunity to attend such a ceremony, do not pass it up. It is a powerful experience indeed.

Don’t greet anyone with “Happy Memorial Day”. Remember, it is a solemn day, a day of remembrance. One wouldn’t offer up a cheerful “Happy 9/11” or “Happy funeral”, but that is essentially what a “happy Memorial Day” greeting is. I’ve heard all kinds of defense of and excuses for offering such a greeting: “I’m celebrating the lives of our soldiers” or “I’m showing how happy I am for my freedom”. While I realize no malice is intended, keep in mind to those who have actually lost someone, this sort of greeting is very insensitive. Memorial Day isn’t celebrated, it is observed.

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Gold Star moms remembering the their sons lost in battle.

Do fly the American flag at half-staff. There are etiquette protocols for raising a ceremonial half-staff flag. The Flag is sharply raised to full-staff (the top of the flag pole), and then solemnly lowered to half-staff. The Flag stays at half staff (in a mourning position) until noon, then it is raised is up again to full staff as a promise by the living to lift the memories of the fallen, to never forget, and to carry on the fight for freedom and liberty. The Flag should then be taken down at sundown. If your flag pole is stationary and the Flag cannot be raised up or down, then you may show observance for the day by flying a black ribbon or sash from the top of the pole. Please be sure to show the Flag proper respect by following regular flag etiquette.

Don’t (accidentally) disrespect the Flag. This one in particular is for the pinup girls planning patriotic photo shoots. Old Glory is not a carpet, a cape, or a blanket. Do not sit on the Flag. Do not stand on it or let it drape on the floor. If you want to use the Flag as a prop, display it using proper flag etiquette. Show your patriotism by showing Old Glory the resect she deserves.

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A few of the Pinup Patriettes posing with American flags. Notice no one is sitting on them or using them as clothing.

Do take a moment at 3 PM to remember our fallen, to show your respect, to reflect. The National Moment of Remembrance is observed at 3 PM on Memorial Day. It is a moment where Americans, no matter where they are or what they are doing, stop to remember, observe a moment of silence, or listen to Taps. The Stater Brothers grocery chain officially observes the National Moment of Remembrance by making an announcement asking their customers to take that 60 seconds to honor the fallen.

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I have had the honor to sing at so many welcome home celebrations, Memorial Day services, and every sort of patriotic event imaginable. I can never get trough a song without choking up.

Don’t be obnoxious with the sales. This is really more for shop keepers, but it also applies to consumers. I love to save money just as much as the next gal, but mobbing the local boutiques or electronic stores for a holiday discount seems, well, in poor taste. I’m not saying you shouldn’t shop or take advantage of a good deal, just remember why that store is offering a sale. If you are a shop keeper, again, remember what Memorial Day is really about. Be respectful and sensitive about offering “huge Memorial Day blowout sales”.

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The Pinup Patriettes love hamming it up with fans and new friends, but we never lose sight of why we do the work we do. There are so many who never made it home, and we will never forget them.

Do know what holiday you’re observing. On Memorial Day we honor those who have died in service of our country. On Veterans Day we celebrate and say thank you to the veterans who have  previously served in the military. On Armed Forces Day we celebrate and say thank you to the men and women currently serving in the US military.

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My Mr and I took our little boy with us as we Hiked for Heroes. Educating our children will keep these important traditions alive.

Do buy Buddy Poppies from the VFW. Outside grocery stores (especially the afore mentioned Stater Bros.) you will likely see representatives from the VFW selling Buddy Poppies, buy one…or twelve. These traditional flowers of Memorial Day, inspired by the poem, In Flanders Fields, are made by disabled veterans and the proceeds go to veteran’s charities. “Honor the dead by helping the living.”

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A veteran salutes the flag with a Buddy Poppy in his cap.

I hope you’ve found this little etiquette piece informative. If you’d like to learn more about the Pinup Patriettes and what we do…or leave a much appreciated donation, please visit us at pinuppatriettes.com

XOXO,

Dolly Marlowe