Wednesday, May 18, 2016

More Dining Etiquette for Children


 Did she get permission to help herself to those? — If those in company with us make mistakes, we should be governed by the same rule as in case of accidents,—not take notice unless we can undo or cover the mistake.




We should be attentive to the wants of others, particularly at our own table, and quietly supply them when it is proper to do so, especially in the case of old people and little children. In passing a knife, fork, or spoon to others, we must offer them the handle, not the blade or point, and pass a pitcher with the handle toward them.

If an accident occurs, such as breaking a dish, overturning a glass of water, or dropping food upon the cloth, we should take no notice of it by look or word unless we can repair the mischief, which we should do in a way not to attract attention to the unlucky person.

We should never speak of what is unpleasant at the table. If we have bad news to tell, this is not the place to tell it. Sickness, accident, death, and whatever is painful to hear, should not be discussed any more than what is disagreeable. Neither is the table the place to talk of work or business details, but subjects should be chosen that all are interested in. 


No one should be allowed to scold or find fault at meal time. Cheerful conversation is good for digestion as well as enjoyment. Each one should be in his best mood at the table, and the hours which families spend together there ought to be among the happiest of the day.

Solomon understood this matter when he said, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."

No well-bred person would for a moment think of using a toothpick at the table, still less a fork or a pin in place of a toothpick.

No one, either a grown person or a child, should leave his seat until the lady of the house rises, unless there is good reason for doing so, when he should politely ask her to excuse him. In rising, the chair should not be pushed back from the table, but lifted quietly with the hands, and left in its proper position. 

Every movement at the table should be made with as little noise as possible. All moving of feet, leaning upon the table, jostling of dishes, or clatter of knives and forks, shows ignorance of table manners.

If we observe the manners and customs of others in society to which we have not been accustomed, we shall be often saved from blunders. If those in company with us make mistakes, we should be governed by the same rule as in case of accidents,—not take notice unless we can undo or cover the mistake. An incident is related of a certain king which illustrates this true politeness.

At the royal table on one occasion were two ladies from an obscure provincial town who were unused to the customs of city and court. When tea was brought in they poured some from the cup into the saucer to cool it. The king saw a smile go around the table at their expense, and, with politeness worthy of a king, he hastened to pour his own tea into the saucer, upon which every person at the table felt obliged to follow the royal example, and the two strangers were spared the mortification of discovering that had done anything unusual. – Edith E. Wiggin's 1884, “Lessons on Manners / For School and Home Use.”


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