Mums the word on trashing traditions


We are in the midst of prime homecoming season here in the Midwest. In my day, we wore a smart suit with perhaps a jacket and blouse with a bow at the neck.

Were we going to a high school dance or a board meeting?

Today’s traditions have evolved into a far more elaborate dress. While some of my parenting peers lament the loss of the simple suit, I for one, applaud it.

In my mind, there is just nothing more fun than an afternoon shopping for fancy dresses. I practically invent reasons to go shopping for formals.

“Spring sports awards? Perhaps that needs a gown?”

“Yes dear, I know it’s a bonfire but I’m thinking a fit and flare with heels?”

Before you can shop for the dress, you have to plan to attend the dance.

In my day, a young lady was asked to the dance in one of three ways. A telephone call to the landline phone generally located in the kitchen of her home. Through this archaic means of communication, just a step above two tin cans and a string, a nervous young man would blurt out a hurried “wannagotothedancewithme?”

Option two offered a nervous young man leaning next to her locker to mumble “wannagotothedancewithme?”

Option three found a friend of the young man handing her a note while asking “wannagotothedancewithhim?”

Do you sense a theme here?


Today homecoming invites tend to feature poster boards, food and puns. Soccer players add glitter and glue to a sign that says, “I would love it if you would kick it with me at homecoming?”

Candy is glued to poster board with letters reading, “It would be sweet if you would go to HoCo with me!”

BoyWonder has asked with candy, posters and soda.

Girlwonder has asked with chicken dip (yes, girls can ask too). She has been asked with balloons, soccer balls, two cheesecakes and a bucket of lollipops. These are all inexpensive, but creative ways to ask someone to spend time with you.

They create a fun memory and cute photo opportunity.

How then to explain the almost rabid dislike of them by wide swaths of the parenting population? There is such hatred of PromPosals and Homecoming Asks that entire internet conversations will devolve into name calling among adults over the very topic.

Words like entitled and spoiled are thrown around. It’s sad to see such vitriol over a little bit of poster board and food.

People seem to take hard sides either for or against what is basically a regional tradition.


I’ve learned that in high schools throughout Texas, for example, students make their homecoming dates a “mum.”

These Kentucky Derby winner-sized corsages are made with silk flowers and ribbons that trail down to the floor. The idea is to design it to match your date’s personality, and the bigger and more outrageous the mum, the better. We don’t do big mums in our corner of the Buckeye State but it sure looks like fun. I’m not crafty, so I would have to bribe someone with wine to make one for us or resort to buying one.

I’m sure there is some sort of black market mum trade for the craft-challenged? Regardless of my lack of mum experience, it certainly seems like something plenty of people enjoy.

More importantly, no one has asked me to donate to their mum fund, so why would I judge? In other cultures and regions, people throw fairly elaborate sweet 16 parties or quinceaneras. It’s not something we do here, and frankly, I’m not sure why not?

We already know I’m a complete sucker for pretty dresses, and frankly, I’m down for anything involving cake. I understand not everyone shares my love for fun, frivolity and tulle. Perhaps someone’s child toils dawn to dusk in seven different charities while maintaining a 6.0 GPA and is simply too focused to date until she’s at least 37.

If she did attend a dance, she would wear a modest turtleneck floor-length gown (with a shawl). She is simply way too evolved for such shenanigans and believes that rhinestones are for hussies.

We get it, she’s modest and awesome.

Here is the thing: the local tradition loving, fun having, posterboard waving, sparkle and mum or whatever are awesome too.

I am of the somewhat rare belief that teens these days are better than ever. They work hard, they play hard, they volunteer and they are focused on their goals.

If they take a little time off now and then to have fun with posters and puns and dress up and dance, I’m OK with that. Let’s all focus on making a tradition of catching young people being good.

We should also encourage everyone to embrace more glitter and cake.


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