Tag Archives: graduation

Announcement, announcement!

Memorial Day is behind us. White shoes are out of storage, and the celebratory time flanked by this holiday and the next one is upon us. Judging from the fast-rising stack of mail before us, it must be graduation season.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to share a few observations.

Observation #1:  Perhaps my son is right when he says that I am the strictest parent on the planet because, based on every graduation announcement that has come into our house over the last 10 years, my son is the only high school graduate to have addressed his own announcements. My husband and I insisted on it. While we chose not to send announcements when he graduated from college, I am always struck by how many parents address their children’s college graduation announcements, 100 percent, as best I can tell.

Observation #2:  Some people choose to ignore the graduation announcements they receive altogether, though about half send announcements when their children reach graduation age. Personally, receiving these requires a great deal of maturity and restraint on my part. But I send a gift nonetheless. Restraint is equally needed when one receives an announcement for a child one has met only once, or not at all.

Observation #3:  The generosity of those who do send best regards is overwhelming.

Observation #4:  Most graduates send thoughtful thank you notes. Others either send none at all or simply sign a form letter written and typed by their parents.

Observation #5:  A well written thank you note is worth keeping. We can almost predict a graduate’s potential success based on his or her thank you note.

When I receive a thank you note of any kind, I read it once or twice, enjoy it and then throw it away. We received one last year—for a high school graduation gift we sent—that was too good to discard. I kept it in a stack of papers I go through from time to time, just so I can re-read it. It provides heart-warming proof that young people can write thoughtfully and well. Because I like to share good writing on this blog, I’ll share it here:

“Thank you for your card and money for my graduation.  It’s a big step in my life, and I’m glad you took the time to write me a note of congratulation. I’m going to try my hardest to be the best computer engineer at Virginia Tech I can, and am thankful to know my family is close behind me, hopeful for my success. Thank you!”

Parents, I respectfully suggest that you share this with your kids. And for Pete’s sake, consider having them address their own graduation announcements. At a minimum, take a cut of the proceeds for your efforts.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Family and Friends, Holidays, Rants and Raves

Pomp and circumstance

Tomorrow is the big day–my son’s college graduation.

In the movie Parenthood, the grandfather, played by Jason Robards, observes this about being a parent:  “You never get to spike the ball in the end zone and do your victory dance.  It never ends.”

There’s no doubt that’s true.  But tomorrow will be pretty darn close.

As much as I look forward to watching my son walk across that platform, there’s something else I am looking forward to.

Yes, the all-important commencement address.  I’ve heard very few in my lifetime.  My father was the commencement speaker at my high school graduation and, while he was a big hit, I’d heard him speak a few times before.  I didn’t participate in my own college graduation exercises because I was already working full time and didn’t consider it important.

This time of year, I enjoy reading the various commencement addresses.  These speeches are intended to give young adults advice for succeeding in their professional lives and motivate them to high achievement.

Let’s get real.  The graduates are sitting there numb from exams and term papers, perhaps a little hungover, and exhausted from clearing away the leaning towers of pizza boxes and other debris that’s piled up all year, in anticipation of their parents’ arrival.

A commencement speaker with any hope of stirring these men and women had better make it pithy, punchy and to the point.

I’m no Kurt Vonnegut  (who reportedly never delivered that famous Wear Sunscreen speech at MIT), but I’ve often wondered what I’d say if I were in front of an audience of graduating seniors. 

I thought back to something I did when my son went off to college four years ago.  As the nerdy, over-involved mother I am, I jotted a list of keys to success, typed it out and framed it to sit on the desk in his dorm room, so he could look at it every day and be inspired.  I think it came home sophomore year, never to be read again.

10 Secrets for Lifetime Success and Happiness

  1. Drink water – eight glasses a day will keep you healthy, inside and out.
  2. Read the paper – know what is going on in the world; be informed, keep a global perspective.
  3. Say your prayers – ask for guidance and give thanks.
  4. Say no – to options that are destructive to yourself and others.
  5. Say yes – to opportunities to do good for yourself and others.
  6. Count your blessings – at the end of every day, think of three things you are thankful for.  Even when you have a bad day, you will always find something good, however small.
  7. Make eye contact – look people in the eye; it will help you to be a good listener.
  8. Keep God at the center – let him, not you, be the focus of your life.
  9. Help the needy – be attuned to those who are vulnerable and tend to them.
  10. Call your mother – she worries.

Maybe I’d add “watch your grammar.” 

If you had one piece of advice for today’s college graduate—perhaps something that has worked for you or something you would have done differently—what would it be?

In the meantime, I will enjoy the big day and might even do a little victory dance.

Reminder:  Word Nymph doesn’t post on Sunday.  Did I mention my son is graduating?


Filed under All Things Wordish, Family and Friends, Movies, Television and Radio

Chain-free zone

Good morning and greetings from Boone, North Carolina.

My husband and I are here for our son’s graduation from Appalachian State University.  I just couldn’t let the festivities begin without telling you a little about this charming place, where we’ve been coming a couple of times a year for the past four years.

Not everyone knows about Boone or Appalachian State.  App State entered the national consciousness in 2007 when its then-two-time Division I-AA national championship football team beat the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the season opener.  It was the largest upset in college football history and landed the Mountaineers on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  Later in the season, they won the championship for the third year in a row.

Appalachian State sits high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, in what’s known as the Ski Capital of the South.  The student population is about 15,000.  One of the institution’s most famous alumni is Steven J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics.

Boone itself is artsy and bohemian.  It’s surrounded by a number of elite resorts, so there’s a cultural dichotomy that sometimes causes friction on the local political scene.

I think what stands out most about downtown Boone is the absence of chain stores and restaurants.  Up and down King Street, Boone’s main avenue, you’ll find one character-filled small business after another.

On King Street, you’ll find no Gap; just The Jean Pool.  There’s no Abercrombie; there’s the Mast General Store.   I was sad to see that the second-hand store, Love Me Two Times, has closed its doors.  There’s no CVS; just Boone Drug, which still has a lunch counter.  There’s no Panera; it’s Our Daily Bread.  There’s no Hair Cuttery; there’s Split Endz.  No Starbucks, only Higher Grounds and The Beanstalk.  No Chipotle; only Black Cat Burrito. The closest Chili’s is an hour away, which is fine because there’s the The Boone Saloon.   And if are you are looking for a cheap place to stay on King Street, you’ll find no Days Inn; only a nondescript  motel with a sign that reads:  2 people 1 bed $29.

What more can I say?


Filed under All Things Wordish, Family and Friends, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Travel