Rules for the Thanksgiving  dinner table

Barry Evans
Barry Evans

Thanksgiving is upon us.  Every holiday has something about it that not everyone knows.  For example, when you have been invited out to dinner, there are certain rules that you must follow – even if you were not aware that the rules exist.  We all know that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  Apparently, this also applies to rules – especially at Thanksgiving time.  We certainly would not want to ruin a perfectly good holiday by not following the rules.  This is especially true for a holiday that is followed by a Black Friday.  Even the name “Black Friday” is scary enough without breaking rules.

Apparently, the number one rule is that when someone hollers “pass the salt,” you do not follow their command.  No sir, you must pass the salt and pepper together.  Not only does this keep them together on the table and provide order to the table, but the poor things have lived all their spicy life together and they get upset when separated.  So do not upset them – particularly the salt as you will have to throw some over your shoulder and it will get on your host’s carpet.  That gets the meal off to a bad start to say the least.  Finally, you are not to use either the salt or pepper on the food until you have tasted it.  To do otherwise is very bad form.

The second rule of great importance is that no matter how good the food looks on the plate, you must wait.  What you are waiting for is for the host or hostess (sometimes both) to pick up their napkin, unfold it and place it on their lap.  Then, and only then, can you commence chowing down.  This applies even in The Villages where it might possibly take some time for the host or hostess to unfold their napkin what with arthritis or something.  However, the meal is most likely worth the wait, and you will be rewarded – at least in your own mind – by your proper display of etiquette.

It is true that you can now chow down, but you still must follow proper form while eating.  While most people understand without prompting, you should still remember that you are to cut your food one piece at a time.  It is simply not acceptable to cut your entire slice of turkey up, and then try to gobble the pieces down as fast as you can.  Slow and steady wins great respect for your good form among the other diners – even if they do think you may be a little off.  Besides, we all know that it takes time for your mind to realize how much you have eaten.  Going slow and steady gives time for the fullness factor to kick in.  Then, you will not want two slices of pumpkin pie which would ruin your diet and weight.  That is not a good thing what with Christmas parties coming up.

Before the dinner, you shall not switch place cards on the table.  True, you may be placed next to a guy who burps loudly when he eats, but the hostess had certain thoughts when setting up the table.  For example, she may feel that you have the positive energy to cope with the burping.  Of course, there is always the chance that she doesn’t really care for you, but think the best and pull out your hearing aid if you have one,  (You can also shove a piece of tissue in the ear).  There is always a way to enjoy life.

Finally, the host has invited you as a trusted guest.  That means when you have to go to the little room, you should not stop and look in the closets or bureau drawers.  That also applies to filing cabinets.  You might be shocked what he has filed under your name, and ruin the dinner for yourself.  After following the other rules, this one should not be too hard.  If it is, make certain that you shut the door behind you.

I consider this my public service column for the year.  

Barry Evans writes about Life in The Villages for