New Year’s Diss: Why Did They Leave at 12:01?

Cherished readers, The Lady wishes you all a most Happy New Year! She was enjoying coffee and reading emails as is her habit in the morning and she found this correspondence there…sent to her at 116 AM this morning.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

I had our annual New Year’s party earlier. My husband and I invited about 40 people to celebrate with us and we had the usual food and beverages available. It took a lot of work, preparation, and planning to get things set up. The party started at 7 PM and things seemed to be going well. At 1130 we started to watch the festivities in New York and anticipated the ball drop. After much to-do and the countdown and obligatory toast to the New Year…three quarters of my guests decided to leave. The time was 12:01AM! Barely a minute past midnight!!! I am quite offended but am not sure that I should be. My husband says that it was a long evening for everyone and some of our guests needed to work today, but I cannot help but feel that it is rude to up and leave so close to midnight. May I have your thoughts? 

Ringing In The New Year With Aggravation

Dear Ringing In The New Year With Aggravation,

Ah, The Lady understands your pain. The Lady also understand the pain of those who must work or those who a bit of age on them. The Lady’s mother would often entertain on New Year’s (back in the Dark Ages known as the 80s) and would have a party much as you just described. As most of the people attending the party were older folks (by older The Lady means in their 70s and 80s) it was often the case that once the ball dropped, the champagne glasses were drained, and New Year kisses shared, these people had their coats on and were headed for the door! The Lady’s mother (indeed no one) ever complained because the family had spent an enjoyable evening in their company. The Lady begs you not to feel offended. There was nothing ill-mannered in their behavior. In fact, why not begin the New Year by extending the benefit of the doubt and being happy that you were able to share the end of one year and the start of the next in good company.

Best 2018 Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Food Friday: The Etiquette of Thanksgiving Leftovers

Cherished friends, here is an interesting question asked of The Lady, but one that is sure to apply to a number of people.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

For the past six years on the day after Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law has a party at her home. She feels that since we are all not together on the holiday proper, it can be a ‘second-edition’ Thanksgiving for us. She extends invitations to about a dozen of us in the family. My question is this: Is it really  acceptable for her to heat up her Thanksgiving leftovers and serve these items to us as she has been doing? Don’t get me wrong, her cooking is wonderful, but I can’t help but feel that it is a little rude to be served leftover food.  Who is correct here?

I Don’t Like Leftovers

Dear I Don’t Like Leftovers,

The Lady admits that she has never been asked this question before, so some time was needed to come up with a thoughtful answer.

  1. The Lady believes that since she is very upfront about this being a ‘second-edition’ Thanksgiving and is inviting family only, this is perfectly fine. The Lady wonders just what else you would be eating on the day after Thanksgiving if you weren’t eating turkey and all the fixings?
  2. Your sister-in-law is being gracious by providing a venue for you all to be together after not spending the holiday proper together. Her invitation is sent from affection.
  3. What’s wrong with eating food that is wonderfully cooked?
  4. The Lady is pleased to see that she will not be discarding perfectly good food, but sharing it with you all.

The one caveat to this that The Lady will add: It never seems proper to serve leftovers in any other circumstance than this one: Invite family or extremely close friends only and be upfront.

Try to be gracious yourself, even if you do not like leftovers.

Best Leftover Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Thursday Ask The Lady: Badmouthing An Ex

Cherished readers, The Lady presents today’s question. She advises at all times to Never Call Attention To Oneself

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

Here’s my real life question. What do you think of people who bad-mouth their exes in public? 

Ex-Ex-Ex

Dear Ex-Ex-Ex,

The Lady presumes that you mean ‘ex-husbands’ ,’ex-wives’ , ‘ex-boyfriends’ or ‘ex-girlfriends’, though she assumes you could mean ‘ex-bosses’ or ‘ex-colleagues’.

The Lady has a very good piece of advice for anyone who may be tempted to spout-off publicly: DON’T.

To publicly speak ill of someone that you were once in a relationship with is bad form. The Lady understands that most people do talk about their unfortunate experiences, and there is nothing wrong keeping these conversations in the family circle or between friends. It is when you blab away to all and sundry that it becomes a social faux pas. After all, people can understand that things may not have worked out and it is always better to at least give the impression that things ended on friendly terms.

If the ex is an ex-boss, The Lady fears you will risk any future employment opportunities. People can be reluctant to hire someone for fear that they will in turn talk badly about the new boss.

Silence is Golden.

Best Ex Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Vintage Saturday: A Look At Advice from 1860

Cherished readers, The Lady came across this advice from the The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness by Florence Hartley.  The Lady believes that both of these pieces of advice still stand today. Enjoy a little look back at Conversation Advice.

Never interrupt any one who is speaking. It is very Ill-bred. If you see that a person to whom you wish to speak is being addressed buy another person, never speak until she had heard and replied; until her conversation with that person is finished. No truly polite lady ever breaks in upon a conversation or interrupts another speaker. 

It is a mark of ill-breeding to use French phrases or words, unless you are sure your companion is a French scholar, and even then, it is best to avoid them. Above all, do not use any foreign word or phrase, unless you have the language perfectly at your command. I heard a lady once use a Spanish quotation; she had mastered that one sentence alone;  but a Cuban gentleman, delighted to meet an American who could converse with him in his own tongue, immediately addressed her in Spanish. Embarrassed and ashamed, she was obliged to confess that her knowledge of the language was confined to one quotation. 

Best Vintage Memory Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Vintage Saturday: Advice on Insults from 1967

Cherished readers, The Lady presents to you an excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Etiquette by Llewellyn Miller copyright 1967. This volume is very easy to read as it is written in alphabetical order. Let’s look at what Miss Miller advised when dealing with insults, be they intended or not. (Page 335 in this volume)

A famous definition of gentleman and lady is ‘One who never insults anyone unintentionally.’ To this can be added  ‘A lady or gentleman is one who never takes word, deed, or manner as an insult when none was intended.’ There is no complete remedy for either the calculated insult or one given under the hot impulse of anger. No matter how regretful or abject the apology, the memory of the insulting words remains. However, when an apology is offered it must be accepted. The acceptance can be stiff if the insult was deliberate. But if the insult was unintentional the only sensible thing to do, in sympathy for the embarrassment of the left-footed give, is to laugh and forget it.”

The Lady agrees with Miss Miller. It is certainly better to ignore such things as best as possible. The Lady would even say if it is noted that this same person repeatedly acts in a boorish manner, she would more than likely only see this individual when absolutely necessary. Why subject yourself to more of the same?

Best “Insulting” Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

Manners Monday: Saying No

Cherished readers, do you find it easy to say no when you are asked to do something you do not wish to do? For instance, how would you respond to these questions:

  1. We’d like to invite you to dinner next week. My mother-in-law is having issues with her gout and would like to discuss her toes with your husband. We know he is a wonderful doctor. Can you make it next Tuesday at 7?
  2. Jack and I will be in town at the end of the month and we were wondering if we could stay with you for four days?
  3. Can you volunteer for _______this weekend?
  4. Can I borrow a thousand dollars?

None of these scenarios is particularly attractive and unless you are a saint, not anything you would like to do. (The Lady acknowledges that sometimes your answer will depend on who is doing the asking.)

One of the skills that The Lady thinks is essential for all to know is the art of saying ‘No’ politely, yet firmly. The best way is to say “No, thank you” or even “I’m so sorry, I/we can’t.” The key is to make this statement and then be silent. Say nothing more. The Lady has found that this usually works, but occasionally some pushy person will keep on and ask “Why not?” The answer to this question is “I’m afraid it’s not possible.” And then be silent once more. One does not need to make up an implausible story to justify or explain why you are saying no.

It takes practice. For The Lady it took years of practice and anxious and resentful feelings after saying ‘Yes’ when I meant ‘No’. There is great freedom in this skill!

Best No-No Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

When They Won’t Stop Calling

Cherished Readers, during my weekly lunch with some friends, one mentioned that she is in the midst of dealing with a relative who repeatedly calls her at all hours of the day and night to moan, groan, and complain about her problems. She rarely asks after my friend. Her cup of patience is almost empty. She turned to me for guidance and I told her I needed to think about things.  I believe that these types of situations might be common, so after discussing with my friend, she agreed I could share my insights with you. Below you will find what I advised her. Name changed to protect the innocent.

Dear Dorcas, 

I pondered your situation on the drive home and the first thing that I would like to remind you of is the fact that your phone, be it your landline or cell, is for your convenience only and not for anyone else’s. You are entirely within your rights to only answer the phone when it is convenient for you. I know that you felt guilty letting it go to voice mail so often, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

I am very dismayed that this person only seeks out your listening ear to vent and spew complaints and never asks how you are. 

BUT, and it is a big BUT (not like Kardashian sized, but big nonetheless) if you are the only person who listens to her, perhaps there may be an emotional problem that she is suffering from and your being there for her is helping her. Because she is family, I would not cut ties with her; but I would be very honest with her and inform her that because you and your family are very busy there must be a set time when you will take calls. Give her one or two times during the week that you will speak to her and explain that if she calls out of those times, you will not be answering. If there is an emergency, she may text or email. You must control the situation while being loving and considerate. 

I feel that one can set boundaries and still be a good friend and we lose nothing by extending these courtesies. In fact, you may find you regain your sanity when dealing with her. 

Best Telephone Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett