Can we all agree here? In this week of Thanksgiving, as we gather together, let’s be there, with one another, eye to eye. Much as I want to see the picture of your cat in her pilgrim costume, it can wait until after dinner. Much as you want to text your boyfriend for the seven-thousandth time, he can wait, too.
I’m not going to insult you by saying calls, pings, Facebook, and Twitter can also wait, because you know that. Tell me you know that.
Sarah Aynesworth, etiquette consultant in Texas, says, “ENOUGH.”
“Manners,” she says, “are about how you make others feel. More important than any rule is making the person you are with feel like she is important to you. Would you verbally say to your fellow diners, ‘You eat your salad while I answer this email…’ ? Never! And yet that is what happens.”
“We’ve all seen a table of teenagers, sitting across from each other texting instead of talking. I only hope they can make eye contact and carry on a conversation in their first job interview,” she continues. Srsly! But Sarah believes adults are beginning to be just as bad. “Beginning” is generous if you ask me… “Rarely can you have a phone-free evening these days,” she says, woefully correct.
Phones on the table are not okay, either. A table prepared for a meal, be it humble or grand, is a place of sustenance and nurturing, of coming together and camaraderie, of story-telling and family squabbles. Whatever. These are connections. These are relationships. These are life and love. We should respect the table and hold a reverence for it, however light-hearted. Slapping a cell phone down beside your place is just that: a slap.
Stop Looking at Your Phones, a funny Downton Abbey-ish spoof is circulating on YouTube, btw, where they all heave their huge, circa-1914-ten-pound phones to the table… We are amused. And yet not. (Warning: video dialog includes f-bomb and c-word. 😮 )
And finally, advises Sarah, “With the holidays approaching and dinners with loved ones and business associates ahead, I challenge you at least to think about it. Put your phone away and focus on your fellow diners. Be present, appreciate the moment, give your full attention, make them feel like the most important people in the world.”
Talk about a gift that keeps giving. Thank you, Sarah.
To learn more about the lovely and superbly etiquette-d Sarah Aynesworth, or to contact her, visit her website here www.sarahaynesworth.com.