Discussion 2 – Just for Example
For Tuesday, November 14, 1961
Objective: To show that the example of a considerate woman is reflected in the lives of her family.
“Homes,” suggests President David O. McKay, “should be little outposts of heaven.”
Seldom do we find homes of perfect peace in this life. However, by employing certain regulations and considerations, the friction natural when various personalities live closely under one roof can be considerably lessened. Through proper knowledge and usage of appropriate social graces, the whole experience of family life can be much more “heavenly.”
In our moments of wildest imaginings it would be difficult to find anything heavenly about a disorderly laid table surrounded by family members hunched over their plates, attacking the meal in complete disregard or consideration for each other.
Though the rules of etiquette, as such, may be relaxed in the informality of home, the spirit of good manners should not be, for here is the training ground, the practice court, for the game of life.
Women are the matriarchal spirits in the home in which they live. The refining influence of a gentle, thoughtful woman can be easily recognized even on the most remote frontier, or under the most adverse circumstances. The opposite is equally true. Our homes will be as lovely, our family as loving, as we care to put forth th effort to make them so.
Regardless of how relaxed the world may become with regard to certain basic behavior patterns, or in spite of the fact that neighbors may do things a bit differently, when it comes to true Christian living, we must teach our families to do that which is right, and considerate. We should remember that it isn’t always possible or necessary to explain why to children, but simply to teach them to do things as part of their family pattern. “In our home this is how we do it.”
The pattern of the patriarchal order in Latter-day Saint homes is observed when children are taught respect for parents, older people, and those in authority over them. It is urged that at mealtime the father or head of the house be the one who should call upon some member of the family to return thanks for the food.
A wise mother will plan the mealtime duties in such a way that she can be seated with the family, at least for a time, allowing husband or son to perform the important ritual of helping her to be seated. Such an example of helpfulness should be exhibited before the younger members of the family, not because mother couldn’t sit down by herself, but because they love to honor her for being the lady that she is. It is more likely, then, that if the occasion arises, the missionary son will remember to assist the mission president’s wife, or woman investigator, to be seated if he has already seen and practiced this kind act at home with mother or sister. If this has not been the custom in the home to this point, perhaps mother can get the co-operation of the father to set an example by talking to him privately.
Eating should be more than satisfying hunger. It should be an art, a refining, pleasant experience for all of the family. Stimulating conversation should be deliberately encouraged and unpleasant subjects or complaints should be consciously avoided. Table appointments, however simple, should be clean, orderly, and as attractive as possible. There are, of course, definite rules about which utensils to use with each type of food. Because these rules may vary from country to country, they should be studied by the sisters for proper usage in their locality.
However, the amenities of dining which hold true everywhere should be carefully observed by all, not because they are rules, but because they make dining a delightful experience for all.
1. Do not talk with food in the mouth.
2. Use the corner of the napkin (serviette) frequently to keep the mouth clean.
3. Do not eat with elbows on the table.
4. Take small bites, slowly, cutting them off the serving of the food as they are eaten.
5. Avoid offensive food noises, such as “slurping” soup.
6. Use a fork and not the fingers for as much of the food as possible, even fried chicken, fried shrimps, and French fried potatoes (chips).
7. Use only one hand at a time when eating “finger food.”
8. Do not reach for food. If it is placed on the table, ask to have it passed.
9. If necessary to leave the table before the conclusion of the meal, excuse yourself to the host or hostess and express thanks for the lovely meal.
10. When you are a guest at a dinner, if a food is served to you which you do not enjoy, eat what you can and leave the rest on the plate without explanation. If it is offered to you, it is always better to take a small helping and eat it to be polite to the hostess. If you cannot, simply say, “No, thank you.”
Questions for Discussion
1. How can the idea of improved social graces be most effectively taught to one’s family? Family Night? Suggestion boxes? A “state of the family” message given each month by a different family member, perhaps?
2. What areas of social improvement and consideration can your families work on most profitably?
3. How can families be inspired to improve social graces, or their experiences extended to practice them – frequent guests for dinner (even a neighbor’s child) and occasional excursions to dine out?