Monday, April 8, 2019

There’s No “Right” Kind of Hospitality

“I’m going to give an afternoon tea for my niece and I’m simply wretched over it. My teaspoons aren’t the right size and I haven’t any sugar tongs, and I’m afraid I shant have enough of the tea napkins, and may have to fill in with the larger ones. I’d give the whole thing up if I could, but I don’t want to disappoint...” 

“It takes all the pleasure out of entertaining to be poor,” I heard a woman say the other day. “Why?” I asked. “Because you never can have things just as they ought to be. I’m going to give an afternoon tea for my niece and I’m simply wretched over it. My teaspoons aren’t the right size and I haven’t any sugar tongs, and I’m afraid I shant have enough of the tea napkins, and may have to fill in with the larger ones. I’d give the whole thing up if I could, but I don’t want to disappoint Margaret.” What a spirit to plan an entertainment in! 
What a travesty on hospitality! 

What do we invite our friends to our homes for, anyway? To enjoy their company and to give them a pleasant time? Or to show them our household possessions and prove that we know the rules of etiquette for each occasion and have all the required impedimenta. Real hospitality is a beautiful thing. The travesty into which we pervert it by trying to follow certain set forms and do everything just as “they” prescribe, is a very unbeautiful thing.

It is perfectly possible to entertain one’s friends, and entertain them acceptably, no matter how poor one is. Only you must go about the matter in a dignified and self-respecting spirit. Give the best you can; believe that that is sufficient; act as if it were sufficient, and it will be sufficient. Put good taste and careful planning into your preparations, select congenial people: don’t get so tired that you cannot greet them with warm cordiality; put the spirit of real hospitality into the occasion, and it cannot fail to be a success. 
What factor makes you have a good time when you go anywhere? Because all the appointments are just as Mrs. Grundy dictates, and the food and entertainment are expensive? Or because you are received with sincere cordiality and meet congenial people? 

Of course there may be a few people who will not care for your friendship if you cannot measure up to all Mrs. Grundy’s standards, but do you care for their friendship? They may be all right in their way, but aren't there enough people who are cultured, refined and worth knowing, and yet not so exacting, from whom you can more wisely and happily choose your friends? A great many of the pleasures of life are spoiled by the attempt to compete with people who have more money than we. Let’s not permit the joy of hospitality, the pleasure of entertaining one’s friends, be among this number. – Ruth Cameron’s Chit Chat, 1914


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

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