At Home With Vivian: Pick one!

My older sister Brenda was visiting last weekend from Washington State. We shopped on Main Street, rode the Vallejo Ferry to San Francisco, and enjoyed the Harvest Festival Craft Fair in Pleasanton. Brenda had never heard of “Trunk or Treat” so, on Sunday after church, we walked through the Farmer’s Market and checked out the “Trunk or Treat” party. We walked the length of the Main Street festivities before the event had to be closed down. (Please send good thoughts for those injured by the falling tree and hope for a quick and full recovery.)

I liked hearing Brenda laugh when she saw the Volkswagen Beetle with its trunk decorated to look like an open toothy mouth. What a joyous morning! We saw princesses, robots, teddy bears, bumble bees, fairies, male and female super heroes, rabbits, the Mad Hatter and so much more. Martinez’s “Trunk or Treat” is a wonderful program for families. Don’t miss it next year!

Trunk or treat
“As each child came up, the candy man said, with a smile, “Pick one!” and held out the bowl of candy.”

We stopped to talk to friends at one ‘trunk’. While we talked, I watched the children approach the costumed man who held out a bowl of candy. It tickled me to see the littlest ones. They are so adorable! Some were shy and had to be prodded by a parent. Some had the whole thing down to a science and walked up with confidence. All had big smiles, rosy cheeks, and were filled with excitement.

As each child came up, the candy man said, with a smile, “Pick one!” and held out the bowl of candy. I watched a little “bumble bee” blindly reach into the bowl, take one, and fly off to show his parents, waving it high in the air like he had just won the best prize ever!

A tiny princess was so overwhelmed at her numerous choices that she couldn’t pick one. She looked and looked at the bowl with wide eyes until a parent chose one for her.

Spiderman, a happy go lucky toddler, tottered up sucking on a lollipop. He couldn’t believe his luck when he saw that big bowl of candy! He took the lollipop out of his mouth and handed it to the candy man as a trade-in for a new treat.

My favorite of the day was a “Transformer” robot, who pawed through the whole bowl, sighed, and said “No thank you” and walked away. Guess he didn’t find the kind of candy he wanted.

A child old enough to know better approached the candy giver. The man said, cheerfully, “Pick one!” The boy hesitated, then reached in, grabbed a whole handful, stuffed it in his pillow case sized treat bag, and without making eye contact, walked quickly away. Startled, the candy man and his helpers looked up at the boy’s parents. The parents just smiled and walked away too.

Wow. My mother would have made sure I couldn’t sit down for a week if I tried a stunt like that. Mama would have been embarrassed at our behavior. Bad manners and greed were never tolerated.

Did you ever embarrass your parents? As Brenda and I drove to the airport Sunday afternoon, we remembered times we strayed as children. I told Brenda about a time I embarrassed her. I was visiting her in Connecticut when I was about ten and she was a married lady with kids. Brenda was invited to a ‘tea’ with other ladies and was told I could come too. We all sat in the living room and the grown-ups were having polite conversation. The hostess passed around a tray of cookies and we each took one. Then the hostess set the tray down on a table across the room from where we sat.

The ladies talked. That cookie was good. The tray was just sitting there. As I stared at the cookies, the hostess saw me and said “Help yourself!” I walked across the room and picked up two more cookies. Brenda gave me one of those looks. I ate the cookies and stood up to get another. I was yanked back down so fast it felt like my mother had done it! On the way home Brenda explained the social lesson that “Help yourself” does not mean you can have unlimited cookies!

Luckily, Brenda didn’t remember that incident from so long ago. She laughed at the story and said she had done the same thing to our mother. A hostess had told her to help herself so Brenda picked up several cookies and got the riot act all the way home from Mama. Isn’t it funny how we remember those little life lessons?

As they say, what goes around comes around. My children on more than one occasion have embarrassed me with a social faux pau. You can’t blame the kids if they don’t know the rules of the road, as my mother used to call manners. We, the adults in their lives must teach them that manners are necessary. Just like traffic laws, they help keep things flowing safely along. Manners are taught by parents and are reinforced by friends, neighbors, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Most of the time, that is.

After traveling around the world with Jeff’s job in the Air Force, we were finally transferred to Travis AFB, close to home and family. Our children were 10, 11, and 12 years of age when we arrived. Our family in Antioch were thrilled to have us so close.

My father’s family is very English by way of Canada. Anytime you visit a relative, you are offered a cup of tea and a small snack. My mother always kept a little box of cookies in the cupboard for unexpected guests.

The first afternoon the kids and I visited Aunt Marion and Uncle Bill, Aunt Marion had a tray of cheese, crackers and dry salami ready for us. We Roubals each had a bite and settled in for some catching up as we hadn’t seen the relatives in a couple of years. Our son Edward went back to the tray for more salami. Then daughter Marion went back. Edward got up again. I told him to sit down, that he’d had enough. He said the ’meat thing’ was really good! Marion begged for more too. I told them they’d had enough. I didn’t want them to be making little piggys of themselves. Embarrassed, I explained that they were tasting dry Italian salami for the first time.

Aunt Marion was no help. “Oh, let them have more!” Uncle Bill tried to come to my rescue by gently telling his wife, “Now Marion, their mother said no.” But Aunt Marion was having too much fun introducing her great nieces and nephew to a new food. I gave up and told the children they could have one more, and only one, slice of salami and a cracker.

Aunt Marion gave them each a paper plate and filled it with salami and crackers. By the end of the visit my progeny had consumed a whole pound of salami. To this day they love it and always think of Aunt Marion. But boy did they get a lecture on the way home! They learned that “help yourself” does not mean unlimited, but “take one,” really means just one. Manners can be confusing.

Have a safe and happy Halloween tomorrow night! And remember, even the littlest bumble bee is learning that “pick one” means just one.

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