Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just do it...

Looking back over the last few entries of mine, I realize that I need to periodically adjust my compass. Yes, I love great decorating, rooms with a view, sparking tableware, beautiful flowers, and fine food, but I also realize that the important aspect here isn't what's on the table, but who's around it. No matter the setting, a meal is better when it is shared.

I often hear people say they are intimidated inviting guests to dinner because they don't have 'x' or 'y', or when they finally have 'z', then will they have people over. My advice is to just do it. Pick a date and make a phone call or send an email and plan an evening. Because, at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter about plates or glassware, or paper or cloth napkins. What matters is that you cared enough to be hospitable to those important to you.

I share a lot about this concept of Tabletop and how gathering around the table and sharing a meal is one of the last links we have to civility in our society, to a time when people cared. Cared about the food they ate, about how to have polite conversation, and through this conversation connect with one another. Cared about manners and etiquette, which really is about respect for others rather than what fork to use and when to use it. (By the way, a great tip from the 1940 Vogue Book of Etiquette is that if a guest happens to pick up their finger bowl and drink from it, then the host/hostess should immediately do the same, least their guest feel like they made a social blunder- how great is that?!)

I fear that, as time slips by and more and more of us eat in our car or literally while walking, trying to jam the food in as fast as possible because there is a deadline, or a meeting to get to, or we're just too tired to care, we won't know how to do this. How to listen to each other rather than talk over others with whom we may disagree (I would hate to think our role models for conversation are the shows on television that pass for news...), how to be gracious to one another, and how to be just plain, unselfishly hospitable. For it is being hospitable that the great religions of the world tell us is the most crucial aspect of how we treat each other.

So, it'll be fine. We'll walk through this together, you're not alone. Get your calendar out, pick a date, and just do it.

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