Tag Archives: neighbors

The 12 Rules of Christmas

by Lillian Csernica on December 15, 2016


1) Thou shalt slow down. We’re all in a hurry. It’s that time of year. If we can “proceed in a calm, orderly fashion” the way we’re directed to do during emergencies, then maybe we can avoid the kind of emergency that will ruin everybody’s day. Yes, I mean traffic. I also mean elevators, escalators, check out lines, and any other point where the crowd tends to hit a bottle neck.

2)Thou shalt hurry up. This means have your ticket ready when you exit the parking garage. This means get off your cell phone and stop blocking the aisle. This means know what you want to order by the time you get to the head of the fast food line.

3)Thou shalt have mercy on servers, salespeople, and other customer service representatives unless and until they demonstrate deliberate rudeness. Once that happens, demand to see the supervisor or manager. Take the time to make sure those rude people get busted for their bad behavior. You deserve polite service.


4)Thou shalt give no gifts that require labor or maintenance unless by prior explicit agreement. This means any living creature in the pet category, any plant growing in a container, anything from any DIY category on Pinterest, and especially any of those “In A Jar” projects.

5) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s parking space. This goes double for the handicapped slots. Just because you can’t see why a person has a handicapped placard or special license plate, that doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have a disability that qualifies.

6) Thou shalt contain thy children. This includes both physical movement and volume control.


7)Thou shalt prepare, taste, and evaluate any new recipes before inflicting them on innocent and unsuspecting family and/or guests. Have you ever wondered why the women’s magazines bring out all those bizarre recipes for the holiday season? If those food items are so delightful, why aren’t people making them anymore?

8) Thou shalt keep thy receipts. Big stores like Toys R Us and Macy’s are pretty good about “gift receipts,” making returns possible without the person knowing exactly how much you spent on the gift.


9) Thou shalt not put up so many Christmas lights, inflatable snowmen, animatronic reindeer, etc. etc. that you create a traffic hazard by either distracting drivers, blinding them, or both.

10)Thou shalt cover thy nose or mouth in the event of a sneeze or cough. Come on, people. Do the elbow thing. Do NOT use your hands, because you will then spread whatever germs didn’t already escape into the air.


11)Thou shalt send actual written thank you notes. I know, this must sound unbearably old-fashioned in the Digital Age, but it’s the right thing to do. My sons send written thank you notes, and everybody knows Michael and John both need some help to do that. People are surprised and very pleased. Word gets all the way back to my mother, who sat me down and made me write thank you notes as soon as I had learned how to write.

12)Thou shalt give thyself permission to stop trying to make everybody happy all at once, especially when that means losing sight of making thyself happy too. Figure out what really makes you happy, be it baking cookies or driving around looking at Christmas lights or going to church or playing silly board games with your friends. Do those things. Give yourself the gift of “Peace on earth, goodwill toward Man.”



Filed under cats, charity, Christmas, dogs, Family, family tradition, Food, frustration, Humor, Lillian Csernica, mother, parenting, Self-image, Special needs

Eavesdropping: The Key To Fame and Fortune

by Lillian Csernica on June 22, 2015

I love to travel, but I don’t get away as much as I’d like to.  On the other hand, the whole world comes to me when I just sit back and listen.

Those lovely folks at Merriam-Webster provide this definition for eavesdrop:

“to listen secretly to what other people are saying.”

My room is on the second floor of the house, facing out onto the driveway.  This means I get to keep an eye on who’s coming and going at this end of my street.  What’s far more fascinating is sitting up here with the window open and my ceiling fan going, sipping a refreshing drink while I listen to what’s going on out there.  The people I hear the most from are my two closest neighbors.  Am I invading their privacy?  The folks who live on my right have a pool in their back yard.  During the summer months they’re out there on a daily basis.  They’re nice people, with two young daughters.  The older girl is quiet and polite.  Her little sister is an unholy terror, one of those angel-faced brats I’ve been at war with ever since I was old enough to walk.

On a recent weekend these neighbors had company, which happens a lot.  The adults all went somewhere and left the two girls plus the children of their visitors in the keeping of the grandfather, who is also part of the household.  Sure enough, the Brat started in, hollering loud enough to drown out everybody else.  All I could hear was her shrieking, “I want the pool light on!”  Over and over and over again, same inflection, same demand.  That finally stopped.  I don’t know if she got what she wanted or one of the adults managed to distract her with something else.  There is no disciplining this little monster.  She’s got more tricks up her sleeve than a master magician.

Not all that exciting, you say?  Hardly worth the bother?  Mind you, this child is about six years old.  I tried to concentrate on my work, but when the shrieking got going again, I caught one key word: “Vampire.”  Uh huh.  So I kept listening.  Sure enough, about five minutes later I hear her bellow, “They suck your blood!”  The evil glee in her voice brought to mind the days when the kids in our neighborhood got together and tried to scare each other silly.  Now here’s the punchline.  The general rumble of the other kids’ voices went on.  Then the Brat shrieks, “Get out of my house!”  They were already outside.  She was doing a good imitation of an adult issuing a command.  I’m starting to wonder if Mommy and Daddy have been letting their little hellspawn watch monster movies, or maybe even True Blood.

Tell me this isn’t the material for some kind of story!



Filed under Family, Fiction, frustration, Humor, mother, Writing