“Because I Said So”
The lessons from my mom that stuck
By Marianne Aleardi

My mom is about to celebrate a big birthday, and because she is from another generation, she would kill me if I mentioned her age here. I don’t understand why, because I think she should shout it from the rooftops. So while I don’t agree with that belief, there are many things she has taught me over the years that I know now are worth holding on to. So many.          

Here are just a few:

Love others, especially your family. Unconditionally. And always. 

No trip to the Boardwalk is good unless you get Kohr Bros. – orange and white. 

There are 2 ways to eat hot dogs. One is on a bun, and that is called a hot dog sandwich. The other is on a plate, cut up into pieces, with noodles and maybe apple sauce. You should also have mustard on the plate to dip each piece of hot dog. 

Show up for people in your family. This past year Joe and I attended 2 high school plays my nephew’s son Ben appeared in. It isn’t exactly how we might choose to spend a night out, but I want Ben to know everything he does is important to his family – all of us. We will show up. 

When you make macaroni and cheese, add peeled tomatoes – the kind in a can – and top with bread crumbs. (Try it.)

When you’re on vacation, having pretzels and a soda on the balcony of a hotel in the late afternoon is the perfect way to end a day. 

You always get caught in a lie. 

Family pictures are the best kind of art for the walls in your house. 

Nothing beats a late night out with friends. I have so many memories of my brother, sister and I falling asleep in the living room of someone’s house while the adults sat around the dining room table talking and laughing – and singing Frank Sinatra songs, which is something I grew up thinking everyone did. 

Always show your daughters how wonderful they are and how much better life is because they are here. 

Much to Toni Farmer’s dismay (and Joe’s), Miracle Whip is better than Hellmann’s. 

New York City is the best place to visit. Add dinner and a Broadway show and you have a magical night. 

Don’t talk about politics with friends.

On St. Patrick’s Day, wear green, go to an Irish Pub, and be happy.

Marry someone you really like, as well as love – someone you have fun with and just enjoy. There’s no one I like to spend time with more than Joe. Our relationship is totally modeled after my parents, because we both watched their love affair for decades. My parents’ relationship was probably the most valuable thing they shared with me, because it gave me a lifelong best friend. 

Sometimes the old-school way of doing things is actually pretty good. (Except for using GPS, which I can’t seem to convince her has benefits.)

When a friend needs help, you give it to them no matter how difficult it is for you. 

Take risks. 

Beer is better in a glass. (Can’t confirm this one. I never liked beer.)

If your children need a co-signer to buy their first house, be ready to sign. 

If you’re sending a greeting card, it’s a little something extra if you underline key words, like “Happy Birthday.” 

I’ve written a column like this twice before. Once with lessons from my dad before he passed and another with some pretty smart thoughts from Joe. Both of those columns ended the same way, which is also appropriate here.  

No matter what, my mom loves me.

But I’m going to add something that my mom has said frequently when talking about her life. When I read over this list, it seems to fit perfectly.

How lucky am I. Who could ask for anything more?  

Read more “Wide Awake” by Marianne Aleardi

May 2023
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