manners trump etiquette

Never once in over 32 years, have I ever sat down to our dining table last.  Mr. Right and when the boys were old enough to stand, always, always politely waited for me to sit down first.  Then came the daughter in-laws, one by one.  Never once has a gentleman in our home sat down to a meal before the girls in the house do.  Now, that is not to say that the mom/girls don’t get up a million and one times to get something forgotten, or a towel to wipe up a spill, however, to begin the meal, we are afforded the privilege of being seated first.

My friend from Sri Lanka, in their household, the men always, always sit and eat first.  Tomato/Tomatoe  everyone has their own unique culture and customs.

Little people have amazing memories.  When our two-year old grandgirlie came to visit last, we were seated at the table and she recalled the last time we were at the dining table.  “Last time, you spilled your green juice and Papa Bruce got up quick and got towels and wiped it all up and then Papa Bruce gave you his juice.”  That statement tells you everything you need to know about Mr. Right.

5cd9ab81190e74f0c080d5404265a485Some folks just never seemed to “get it”.  I am not sure if their parents didn’t teach them, or they chose not to learn it for themselves and then pass it on.  Oh sweet, fancy, mother of Moses, we seem to be in a world of hurt.  Be it politicians, so-called men of the cloth, teachers, co-workers………….listen up, you don’t have to have perfect etiquette, you just have to treat others with good manners. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.  Really that simple, no special classes needed.  Although, I would gladly offer a lesson or two in the name of good manners, anytime.

Oh sure, I get a glowy (yes, that is my word) feeling in my stomach, when I hear the grandgirlies say “no, thank you” or “yes, please”.  I swoon with a long, hand written thank you note from a Stanford college student.  I get giddy when I receive a thinking of you card from a busy medical student.  When I share a meal with our grown “boys” and they naturally use excellent table manners, sigh………….this mother feels “she done good”.

Part of the trick to having good manners is not obsessing about others that don’t.  um.  That is indeed tricky sometimes.  Good manners sort of blends into good behavior that blends into good values and morals.  Sometimes it is a blurry line.  Defacing the Lincoln monument is destruction of public property.  Not really bad manners.  However, if those simple-minded, undereducated people had been taught good manners, well, respect would have gone hand in hand.

Here is another rant:  Treating others like you are better than they are, is NOT good manners.  Standing over someone, shaking the proverbial finger at them, instructing them how to behave and how to worship and how they should live their lives is not nice.  Nice matters!   Here’s a thought, maybe, just maybe living your life through kindness and honest to goodness caring for others might be the magic example that someone may notice and want to emulate. being nice

Now, I am not saying that I remember to send a thank you note every time one is needed.  I try.  I try and write down my thoughts of gratitude and appreciation.  I have bumps in the road, and I too forget to mail a proper note.  A time or two, I have been known to lay my evening bag on the table, instead of politely in my lap.  Yes, I too, have picked up the telephone with a hurried “Hello” instead of a polite proper greeting.  Life has a way of barging in and making us goof up now and then.  I forget to return telephone calls, answer emails and yes, I sometimes forget to send birthday greetings promptly (especially when I turn over the calendar and it is the next day, sigh).

What I do remember is to treat others the way I wish to be treated.  Would I like someone to offer a ride to the airport?  Why, yes I would, thank you.   Would I like someone to welcome me to a new home with a jar of fudge sauce?  Heck yeah!  Would I like someone to send me a silly get well card?  Yes, every single card I have received has helped me get a teeny tiny bit better.  Put all those cards together and oh my stars, that’s a lot of good healing wishes.

This isn’t tough people.  Think, use your head for something other than a place to put a saucy summer, straw hat with a jaunty black ribbon.  (I happen to have one that I love.)

If your momma didn’t teach you, or you missed that day in Sunday School, or your girlfriend didn’t smack you up side the head with a slipper…..let this be the light bulb moment you have been waiting for.  Being nice matters.  It really, really does.    The end. nice matters 2

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