dinnerware to a high gloss shine. Matching glasses were sought (with six kids, that was a harder task than imagined!) and given an extra wash and dry. Emily Post’s Etiquette…The Blue Book of Social Usage was studied to ensure that every place setting was correctly arranged. While my sisters and I were earning Girl Scout merit badges, we were given the great honor of setting the table (and our mother inspected its accuracy before the Big Event). Table manners were policed daily, so we didn’t need many reminders except for the occasional “look” to get our elbows off the table.
Emily Post was also consulted beforehand if we expected additional guests. We knew we could skip the sections on introducing the President of the United States, a Reigning Sovereign, or a Cardinal (even though we were Episcopalians, it probably wasn’t going to happen), but went right to the many sections on informal introductions, including kindly looking people in the eye while shaking hands. My mother overlooked the advice that young children were not involved in introductions as we were expected to greet guests with utmost courtesy just like the adults. Removing hats when indoors, rising when someone (not younger than you) enters the room, making conversations with others (I probably should have spent more time with the latter topic) were all studied in her book on etiquette.
We certainly consulted Emily Post regularly when writing letters to be sure they were addressed correctly, salutations were in the right form, and appropriate closings used. Etiquette also has great tips on writing many different types of letters. Thank-you letters were essential! As I was perusing the reference for this blog, I came across these lines in her book:
Here in black and white was a clear connection between Emily Post and the Bible! Growing up on the King James version of the Bible, I wouldn’t consider it renowned for “simplicity of expression,” unless you’re reading Proverbs or Psalms. Although I wouldn’t look to the Bible to teach me how to set a table, a connection between the two sources includes the expected outcomes of: courtesy, common sense, respect, and kindness.
My annotated Leadership Bible (NIV) introduces the chapter on Proverbs this way:
A wealth of sage advice appears here, such as: Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. (Proverbs 10:12) A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (11:25) An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (12:25) A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)
It certainly seems that the world could use more regular doses of the wisdom written down by Solomon, the wise men, and Agur and Lemuel some 2800 years ago (around 950-700 B.C.) in Proverbs. Paul’s writings 700-1000 years later in Philippians are full of the “joy and encouragement that inspires its readers to focus their thoughts and actions on Jesus Christ.” (Leadership Bible) “Only by pursuing him first will we discover the peace and contentment that come from God.”
Were most of us (dare I suggest: all of us?) to follow God’s teachings of 3000 years ago or Jesus’ teachings of “only” 2000 years ago, or some of Emily Post’s teachings of 100 years ago, we would surely be treating each other with more courtesy, common sense, respect, and kindness.
This Thanksgiving, as we look back over comforting memories of times gone by with family and friends, may we all strive to look forward while keeping our Lord’s teachings always in mind and heart.
I’m thankful for you, my friends in Christ! Happy Thanksgiving!
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.