By Sue Ann Truitt


During the first part of January, much thought and conversation is centered around New Year’s Resolutions. These are often lists containing lofty ideas of how to better one’s health and appearance. Examples are: how many zillion trips to the gym one can make each week or how long one can live on lettuce. It goes without saying that the more unrealistic the resolution, the more unlikely the outcome. In a recent study on New Year’s Resolutions it was  determined that the average resolution does not extend past January 17th.  That must be a big day for ice cream sales!
All of us periodically need to schedule a time to assess and improve ourselves. The new year is the perfect time to become aware of our own manners. Have good manners given way to the hurried life we lead? Perhaps, yes! It is easy to become relaxed about even the most basic of the do’s and don’ts. We must be ever mindful of the right way to do something. Dining is the first area where manners seem to become tarnished. Another which might need a review is street manners.  Don’t let football and basketball be the only score that is important; give yourself manners points: 3 points for always, 2 points for most of the time and 0 points for oops – needs improvement.    
______Looking the person in the eye when introduced.
______Speaking clearly when introducing someone.
______Making proper introductions; introducing the man to the lady, the younger to the older.    
______Waiting until everyone at the table is served before taking the first bite.

______Waiting to begin eating until the hostess takes the first bite.
______Putting the napkin in your lap as soon as you sit down at a table.
______Always saying “Please” and “Thank You!”
______Passing to the right anything that is placed in front of you at the table: salt, pepper, butter, etc.
______Keeping arms and elbows off the table.
______When something is passed to you, pass it on.
______Always ask to have something passed, never reach.
______Take small bites and chew with your mouth closed.
______Do not talk while chewing.
______Do not interrupt.
______When eating something served in a bowl, never leave the spoon in the bowl while eating or when finished.  Always put the spoon on the saucer under the bowl.
______Never put your sunglasses, keys, cellphone, etc. on the table.
______Excuse yourself from the table to blow your nose. 
______When you are finished with a meal, always place your knife and fork together across the plate in the four o’clock position – imagining that your plate is a clock. This signals to the waiter or hostess that you are finished with the meal.
______Keep your cell phone turned off at the dinner table.
______When excusing yourself during a meal, place your napkin on the left of your place setting.
______If something is served that is not your favorite, do not mention it.
______Always find the host or hostess at the beginning and the end of an event.
______When first meeting someone, try to keep the conversation about them. If someone asks about you, keep your answer brief but not curt.
______Smile when greeting or meeting someone. It speaks volumes.
______Open the door for someone and hold it for the person behind you.
______When leaving a message, speak very clearly. Begin and end by giving your name.
______Write a thank you note instead of an email.
______Always cover your mouth when you cough or nose when you sneeze.
Your score on this brief review will bring to mind how important manners really are.  Everyone needs to constantly be aware of this score and remember even the most elementary social graces.  Manners matter!