I've certainly gotten out of the swing of entertaining, serving food, and working on my feet for long hours. How quickly one gets out of shape. Why last year at this time of year I would already have spent six or seven hours per day on my feet for several months and all of it standing on the hard concrete floor of a classroom. This year, I have had the cushy job of being an instructional technology coach and my legs, feet, and back are letting me know that long hours sitting in a desk chair in front of a computer have changed more than my eyesight and posture! Whew! Getting old is truly not for sissies!
All my droopiness is really worth it and I've had a smile on my face for most of the morning remembering the fun we had and how the young women of my niece, Julie's sorority seemed to enjoy and soak in their Evening of Etiquette. It was an enlightening and really fun time for us and I think it was for them as well. My favorite sister-in-law and I even said we wished we could do something like that more often - well, not exactly like that but sort of like that...
We would make it easier to serve the food instead of having to cook it in our home kitchens, load it into the back of the SUVs, haul it for thirty minutes, unload it and set it up on a folding table in a stairwell to keep it hot for a couple of hours before serving it. We also would make the decorating easier so we could avoid the whole loading, hauling, unloading, and reloading afterward thing, too. While that part really helped to build the camaraderie, we really wish we could have done it closer to our back door! All the parts in the middle were what was really fun.
The event itself was a fabulous gift to the young women in attendance. The interim chair of the department of human sciences at Middle Tennessee State University, Deborah Belcher was the guest speaker and instructor. You can learn a little about that program and department by clicking through links associated with Deborah Belcher's website HERE.
She gifted the young women with information about protocol and etiquette regarding proper table settings and behavior, professional dressing for interviews and employment, and touched on wedding etiquette. Her Georgia, southern accent hooked all the listeners and reeled us in to strive for proper etiquette at every occasion.
The knowledge gained by the young women during the evening's dinner is something that they will take with them and use for the rest of their lives. While we don't always concern ourselves with the placing of a fork or glass in our casual everyday lifestyles today, there is still an accepted way of doing things which makes folks feel comfortable. In my opinion, it seems that manners and etiquette are often lacking in our fast food, drive-thru, blue jean and flip-flop culture. So, I hope these young women took the information to heart and will practice some of the tips and pointers Ms. Belcher shared with them.
Of course, there is no worry when it comes to my wonderful niece and she sailed right through the evening without a bobble or foible! She did take in all the information and absorbed the knowledge with a courteous eagerness that one would expect at such an event.
Doesn't she look beautiful while she is learning?
The tables were aglitter with candle-light and shimmering with smiles. Don't the lit candles make quite a difference to our tables?
I really have fallen in love with these lanterns. I wish I had some for myself. I think I could probably use them in lots of different ways. I'm thinking I need about three in graduated sizes. Doesn't everybody?
Don't you just love the way the light glows out of this one and makes the table feel warm and inviting?
The food was absolutely fabulous! My favorite sister-in-law is a wonderful cook and always has something delicious simmering. On this occasion, I want to get a couple of JoAnn's delectable recipes. The menu for the Evening of Etiquette included:
Broccoli and Cheese Soup
Tossed Green Salad
One of my other nieces, Jessica (nephew Jay's wife), was invaluable assistance even as she has entered that hint of a waddle stage while carrying the twin boys we are looking forward to squeezing after the new year. She is such a trouper and was Julie's assistant and JoAnn's assistant from start to finish. I constantly remind JoAnn how fortunate she is to have such a wonderful young woman choose her son in marriage. I think Julie sees her as the sister who was a gift to her even though she wasn't born into the family. (Of course, I didn't get a photo of Jessica in action because I was busy as well. Why don't I ever take enough pictures?)
JoAnn, my favorite (and only) sister-in-law, is one of those folks who is calm and steady and gets everything done without seeming to have a ruffled feather. I don't know how she does it. She keeps her cool (although she, the speaker, and I both were beaded with sweat due to the room's temperature for most of the evening) no matter what sort of chaos is going on around her. All evening I could look across the room and see a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eyes. She worked to prepare the food for most of the day I'll bet and then followed through to unloading when we returned home with all of our boxes, baskets, and totes.
We hauled the few things I had loaned for the event in and plopped them in our kitchen floor. This is what greeted me this morning:
The empty basket held glass dishes for the sherbet and they were loaded into the dishwasher. I also plopped a couple of vine wreaths on the deck furniture as we were hauling things into the house. Everything else sat right where we plopped it throughout the night until I tackled it this morning. What a pile of stuff! Just think, my contribution was only about one-fourth of what we hauled over in the two SUVs! This pile, as well as my draggy body and bleary eyes really did look like the morning after.
I still feel quite fortunate to call these three women (JoAnn, Julie, and Jessica) family and look forward to sharing loads more adventures with them in years to come. We may not be able to choose our family, but when I chose my wonderful husband, I was lucky enough to get a fabulous family as well!
Now, I think I'd better go in and slurp down a little coffee and get going. I don't recall what the protocol is for slurping coffee in your PJs during the dusky light of morning after the husband has headed off for work... is that proper etiquette?