The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 15, 2011

It’s time to put our best foot forward

Associated Press

ENID — Do you put your best foot forward? Think about it.

When I was a little kid, Daddy always would come in from the field or working with cattle and change boots to go to town to see his banker or “trade.” I asked Mother once why he always had such a routine, and she explained no matter what we are busy doing, we always should put our best foot forward.

That lesson has stuck. With few exceptions, I put on makeup every day and fix my hair and try to dress presentable. My grandma did that. Even in the nursing home where she resided in her later years, she put on her “ear bobs” and fixed her hair and face to be ready if anyone came to see her. Those lessons did hard. If company came when she was busy cleaning or canning or gardening on the farm, she always removed her apron and looked presentable for guests.

My friend, Shirley, said her grandmother told her years ago, “Any old barn looks better with a coat of paint.” We should do as the old Hollywood stars did back in the olden days of glamour, and make ourselves presentable for our public (whoever they are). We owe it to our friends and family to always look our best. Too bad too many people now dress sloppy when they appear in public with little thought of being decent, much less pretty.

I hope the trend of wearing baggy shorts that barely hang on to the hips and wearing halter tops that barely cover the anatomy will soon be a thing of the past. That, in no way, is putting a best foot forward. I don’t know who they think they are trying to impress. They are making an impression, all right, but not in the right way. Common decency has almost gone out the window.  

One of my teachers at Phillips University suggested to us young students like something different and interesting about their teacher every day. Each day, she wore a pretty broach or a pair of beads or scarf. She always smelled nice. We, her students, always were wondering what she would wear the next day. I bet little kids are really impressed by a dragonfly pin, or a leopard print scarf or interesting accessory. She always put her best foot forward. Friends like the extra touch of thoughtfulness.

When we apply for a job or  write a resume, we always put our best foot forward. We plan in advance just what we will wear and what we will say in various circumstances. We want them to see us at our best. We include interesting, pertinent information on our resumes to reflect who we   truly are. We want the world to see us at our very best.

We never have a second chance to make a first impression.  During that first meeting or glimpse of someone, we form an opinion that often lasts a lifetime.  It is very difficult to change that first impression into something positive if we “blew it” the first time. That extra care in making a good first impression is very important whether a job or just a casual friendship.

Back in pioneer days, people worked hard and lived in hard times. Houses were not always dusted and as clean as they are nowadays, but Grandma “spiffied up” the place when someone came, and always used her best china for tea. The meals might have been only biscuits and gravy, but for company, she used linen tablecloths and her best china and glasses. It made her feel better, and her guests, too. It is too bad often when company drops by, we use paper plates and the quickest and easiest way to entertain and not convey to our guests how happy we are to see them. We are not putting our best foot (feet) forward. We are too relaxed and almost lackadaisical by Grandma’s standards.

There is even a television show about “curb appeal.” No matter how a house looks inside, the outside has appeal and makes one feel welcome. Some of those makeovers are breathtaking. Isn't it surprising what a little coat of paint and a few shrubs or flowers will do to perk up a residence? Well, the same goes for us. Remember what Shirley’s grandmother said: “Any old barn looks better with a coat of paint.”

To go one step further: Mother used to always tell us, “Pretty is as pretty does.” If we look pretty but don’t act pretty, then all is lost. We also need to be nice. We need to have nice manners and be thoughtful of others and be kind and listen to them, and respect people and ourselves. No matter how pretty we look if we act ugly, then people soon forget how pretty we look.

We don’t have to have a fancy meal to invite people over. I have served potato soup and crackers with a special dessert and guests are satisfied and pleased. Have you ever noticed cheese and crackers, served with flair, can become an enjoyable evening with dear friends. It is the friends that make the evening special. Of course, hot bread or a delectable dessert adds to the menu.

If you have some time and want to impress your guests and put your best foot forward, then serve this dessert. They will forget what the main course was.

Harvest Pie

double crust pastry, unbaked

11⁄2 cup sugar

1⁄4 cup cornstarch

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch salt

3 cups sliced tart apples (I use Jonathan)

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup dried apricots,chopped

milk and sugar to brush on top crust

In large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and spices. Stir in apples, apricots, and cranberries. Turn into 9-inch pastry-lined pan.  Moisten rim of bottom crust and place top crust on top. Press to seal, and flute. Cut slits in top crust. Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.