table manners matter

Growing up, I was expected to keep table manners while eating. These manners included the following:

:: No elbows on the table
:: Chew with my mouth closed
:: No interrupting
:: Wait to start eating until the hostess starts eating
:: No singing at the table.
:: Say please and thank you
:: No conversation that is inappropriate for the dinner table {once my brother started telling a story about worms and my mom stopped him saying that worms aren't good table talk, so he got up and stood in a corner of the dining room to continue telling his story}
:: Stay seated the entire time while eating (i.e. no getting up and down and up and down and up and down)
:: When finished with dinner, ask the hostess to be excused and thank her for the meal

Perhaps some of you may think that table manners are outdated and unnecessary. I disagree. Here's what table manners taught me aside from basic etiquette and courtesy: I learned that I am not the center of the universe, that in fact I am part of an intricate social system built on relationships and that I need to show respect to others, regardless of age. Dinner time is not the time for me to get up and play with toys or have fits. It's not the time for me to play on my phone or catch up on social media. Mealtimes exist to enrich relationships and foster communication. Manners benefit everyone.

Gracious people employ table manners. Not only do table manners exhibit respect for self and for others, but they also are evidence of refinement. They demonstrate an awareness of relationships and mindfulness of behavior. Gracious people have manners that are unaffected and that lack pretension. They certainly don't make others feel bad about themselves for not having table manners. Basically, gracious people care about manners but don't necessarily expect or judge others for not caring. Gracious people exhibit their manners, well, graciously.

It's more than just no elbows on the table--it's about cultivating an attitude of awareness and respect. So call me old fashioned, but in my family, manners matter. A lot.

This post is part of a 31-day series on gracious living. You can find the other posts here.

1 comment:

Ande said...

Part of our table manners included passing the food correctly. We also had to say, "Hello, Payne residence, this is Ande speaking. How may I help you." when we answered the phone. No kidding, we did that until I was in high school. I think phone etiquette is important, but I'm lost on how to teach my own children. Sometimes I wish technology would just go away.

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