No matter what day it was, and for no reason in particular, there were always fresh flowers on the table at my friend Rose’s house. Piping hot stove-perked coffee was always served in beautiful old china cups and even store bought cookies were served on a fancy plate. “Don’t fuss Rose”, I’d always say, and, “It’s no trouble” was her constant reply. The truth is she did fuss, and quite honestly, I grew accustomed to it and would have been disappointed if she didn’t.
When Rose went to the trouble to choose a china cup, to pair it with a charming old linen napkin, or to buy cream – just because she knew I preferred it to milk in my coffee, made me feel special. The fact is I’m not special. Anyone and everyone who comes to Rose’s home got this royal treatment. We’re not special, Rose was special. Rose passed on some time ago, but every time I pour a cup of tea, and every time, I have a friend for coffee I think of her…..and I miss her.
These days anyone who “bothers”, who takes a few minutes, and goes to any trouble, is special. That we’re all busy and tired and stressed has become a good enough excuse to be uncivilized, lazy even. Standing and picking at the food in the pots on the stove; grabbing a bite as we rush out the door; eating out of the container the food comes in; for most of us putting the potato chips in a bowl is too much “bother” these days.
There is no question that making an effort takes time. It is absolutely true that sometimes people won’t even notice when you do the little extras. But sometimes they will, and they’ll feel special. They will remember the gesture and come to appreciate it, maybe even come to expect it. Would that be so bad?
What’s more, exhibiting good manners and giving a little extra of yourself will make you feel good too. Consistently choosing to exhibit good manners says a lot about your personal standard. I realize now for example, that Rose bothers to put out the fancy plates, just like she bothers to dress nicely and to keep a neat house because it is her way of respecting herself. In the process, she earns the respectfulness of others and she succeeds in making the everyday special, something she has done for 80+ years.
I hope you’ll join me and share your own etiquette techniques and traditions for treating everyone, with exactly the same respect and consideration, in every situation, everyday.