Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Friday, November 26, 2010

That caviar is a garnish!

Remember that scene in You've Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan when they are at the dinner party and she discovers who he really is?  She gets so upset when he takes a big spoonful of caviar.  "What are you doing?" she says incredulously.  "You're taking all the caviar!  That caviar is a garnish!"  And so he takes the rest of the caviar off the plate just to show her that he can?

As speaking in movie quotes is my second language--I am fluent--this scene has popped into my head multiple times lately as I've encountered people at parties who lack in the social skills department.  Recently I was at a potluck.  I brought a plate with a wedge of brie, fruit and crackers.  The first guy through the line for food took a piece of bread and proceeded to "butter it" with about half the wedge of brie!  Then he stepped over to a salad and painstakingly took out pieces of tomato one-by-one and made himself a tasty tomato cheese sandwich.  Poor person who came after him (me, unfortunately) didn't get so many tomatoes in their salad. 

The very next day my mother threw a party where she served autumn trifle in individual jars.  She even went as far as spray painting the lids with chalkboard paint and writing the names of the guests of honor on the tops!  Each jar was also tied with a fall colored ribbon.  It was cute and adorable and so yummy and apparently irresistible.  As they said goodbye one guest picked up a full jar of trifle and took it with her.  She didn't ask, "May I take one home?"  She just took it!  Jar and all!  Imagine if someone took home food from your party along with the dishes you were using to serve it?!  My mom, gracious as can be, didn't mention it.  "Oh well.  Just a jar."  (There were a couple close friends of my mother's who said, "May I take my dessert with me?  I will bring you back the jar on Sunday."  Which is a completely different scenario than just taking someone's dishes without asking!)

The Autumn Pumpkin Trifle and the adorable presentation!

Another time when my mother was throwing a party--my sister's wedding reception in fact--she decorated with framed engagement pictures of my sister and husband and red roses.  One new in-law relative (I only mention the in-law part because had it been someone blood related there would not have been the awkwardness that came with having to say something) took a picture complete with frame and a bouquet of roses complete with one of my mother's favorite vases.  Seriously!  They just tucked the items under their arm and headed for the door!  Ummmmmmm, excuse me, that's my vase.....

In other social awkwardness news, my sister and brother-in-law attend a corporate Christmas party every year.  It's a big catered shindig.  There are beautiful holiday centerpieces that apparently people think are just up for grabs.  The caterers had to make an announcement from the mic last year, "Excuse me just a moment folks.  The centerpieces are not party favors. Please do not take them!  They belong to the catering company."  Ghetto.  There are no other words.

Then there are the people who go by the motto, "Never show up to a party empty handed."  People, this is a ridiculous motto.  If you RSVP and ask, "Is there anything I can bring?" and your hostess says, "Would you bring a salad?" then bring a salad--not a pot of spaghetti.  (Yes, this has happened to me.)  If you ask and she says,  "Thank you, but no.  Just come and enjoy."  Believe her.  If you'd like to bring a little hostess gift that is, of course, completely acceptable and appreciated!  But, as I also speak in TV quotes--it's my third language--remember that episode of The Office where Michael shows up to the catered corporate cocktail party with a Tupperware dish full of potato salad?  Yeh.  Don't be that person.  Likely your hostess has already planned out her meal, making it well-rounded and balanced on the palate and your little offering could totally throw off her game.  Example: my sister-in-law threw a fireman party for her son.  She made five alarm chili and cornbread.  Someone showed up with a potato salad.  My sister-in-law graciously thanked her and put it in the fridge.  At the end of the party, realizing that it hadn't been served, the friend went into the fridge and took it back.  Faux-paux number two.  If you give it, don't take it home.

Remember on Seinfeld when George's parents have dinner with his fiance's parents and they bring a loaf of bread, which the parents do not serve?  And at the end of the evening when it hadn't been eaten they take it back?!

All this to say, Mommies, teach your children well.  Teach them how to behave at parties so that when they grow up they don't embarrass themselves or make others feel awkward.  As we enter a season of parties--office parties, church parties, school parties, neighborhood parties, may your mantra be, "That caviar is a garnish."


THE Princess Bombshell* said...

This is the most perfect blog post!!!! (SO proud I was a part of the content gathering.) THIS is what blogs are for. :-)

Lady Dorothy said...

Good advice. All of it. :-)

At a family gathering once, my aunt took a knife to the watermelon before it was served and cut out all the heart portion. "Because that's the part I like." Your fellow-partier just must have known he was the only one who like brie and tomato sandwiches! LOL

Virginia Johnson said...

Oh, my goodness. This is hysterical and awful all at once!!! Soooo thankful you posted it. It needs to be in a newspaper column!!!!!! Truly! Call a local reporter...tell him/her you have a ready-made article. Fantastic!!!

Anonymous said...

I must be an absolute social idiot! *lol* If I honest-to-goodness saw those little autumn things your mama made, I would have thought that one went to each guest & I would have automatically taken one home... not wanting to be rude by NOT taking it home. Cross my heart, that's what I would have thought. *blush*

When people come to a party I'm giving & they've brought some food, I *always* send home the balance of whatever they brought with them, in their bowl or serving dish. If the bowl or dish is empty, I wash it real quick or put it in a plastic bag for them to take home & wash (the plastic bag keeps any residue from getting all over). If none of their food was eaten, I would send home the entire dish with them. But usually I'm asked if I'd like to keep some & I never refuse, so I get out one of my own dishes & take some of the food before sending the balance home with the person.

I absolutely NEVER turn down a food offering, if someone wants to bring something to a party I'm giving. My menu is never ever that "fussy" or "regal" that I don't have room for whatever it is that someone wants to bring. I always say... "We'll eat what we have & we won't eat what we don't have." That's my motto. So, whatever food we have in abundance or in lacking, it gets served... no matter if it happens to "go along" with the menu I had planned or not.

I guess I'm just a northern Indiana hillbilly, honey... and after reading this blog entry, I'm glad I am. It's a lot easier that way... cos apparently I must not be too good with etiquette either. :) I would probably be a major source of embarrassment both in attending a party or giving one, in your neck of the woods. And I don't feel like I was raised in a barn either. So it must be simply the differences in culture.

Love-love-love~ Andrea

Gombojav Tribe said...

A guess a couple clarifications:

Those little trifles from my mother's party were served with real silver spoons. Everyone else ate them at the party...together. So, there is no way a guest could think, "These are for me to take home." I don't think you would have missed those social cues, Andrea! :-)

As far as other entertaining we do, we do a lot of casual entertaining. We have lots of times where everyone brings something and we potluck it. And sometimes I say, "Hey, I'm making chicken 'n' bisuits, bring whatever you want to go with it." And we just kick back.

But, that is not the sort of party I was referring to. Sometimes for some occasions a different set of paradigms are needed. Different rules apply to a cocktail party than apply to a backyard barbecue than apply to a wedding reception than apply to a game night at the lodge than apply to karoake at the corner pub than apply to back-to-school night at the elementary school. You know?

One little example, one time someone came to a dinner party I threw with a pot of soup. Lovely and tasty, yes. But, I didn't have enough bowls or spoons! And all the cups were being used for drinks! Had the person just brought the sidedish as requested it would have saved me a frantic minute of going to the garage to find the bowls we use for camping and wash them, etc. (I don't have disposable stuff on hand.)

It's not about being fussy or regal or stuck-up at all. BUT, it is about reading social cues and being sensitive to others. I do not think that you would miss these social cues, Andrea! After all, you're a 1950's kind of girl! :-)

Anonymous said...

Since your talking about teaching your kids well...Here's a little advice for you....How about teaching your kids how behave at these parties!

Barb, sfo said...

ROFL!! I've been in most situations and wish I knew what to say to be gracious.
As for teaching my kids about this, well, they still eat ice cubes they've dropped on restaurant tables and have "how far away from the Advent candle can you sit and still blow it out" contests--despite my best efforts. Do they still have Finishing Schools somewhere? My kids are SO not "finished."

Karen Joy said...


I think a lot of what you mention stems from our culture where everyone thinks everything is about themselves. "If I like it, I should have it." Ack.

I don't think I have a lot of social graces naturally, nor was I taught any by my mother, who was an Illinois farm girl. HOWEVER, she did teach me not to assume too much, and not to be selfish... and that covers a lot of bases, and has averted many a social faux pas I would have attempted, if not for my mother's caution ringing in my ear!! I'm not much for copy-catting anyone, but when in doubt, ask/watch the hostess!!!

I may not know what the hostess is going to do with whatever I might perceive to be leftovers, but I'm sure not going to ask her for them, let alone take any!!! And, to put my own guests at ease, I make certain that I OFFER anything that I see someone's gaze linger over, if it's something I don't mind parting with. (Two dangling participles there; please ignore.)

I DO love the motto "Never show up to a party empty-handed". However, I think of it in terms of a wee hostess gift (like flowers, or a bottle of wine -- making sure to mention that they should save it to enjoy on another occasion -- or a pretty candle or tea towel or something like that), NOT bringing a bowl of spaghetti or soup!!! I think it's HILARIOUS that that has happened to you!! I've not had anything close to that, really. I have had folks show up to potlucks I've hosted, where they signed up for a veggie/side or something, and they come in toting a couple of 2 liters of soda, because they didn't have time to make/buy the appropriate side. Um, thanks.

Gombojav Tribe said...

To Anonymous,

Please see:


Anonymous said...

I kind of had to chuckle after I thought awhile, Daja, but you know what? I don't think I've ever been to a cocktail party. I'm not sure I know what one is. I mean, I've read about them but I've never attended one.

I'm trying to think back (and that's kinda hard beings I've been an adult for so long now *lol*) but I don't remember ever going anywhere, to eat, that I didn't bring food with me, to share. Weddings are different things in that I've never brought food to something like that... but other than that, I don't remember going to any sort of fancy thing (aka: cocktail party?) where I went empty-handed... or what I brought would somehow have not been the right thing or would have interfered with some sort of menu. We've had a lot of get-togethers over the years & gone to a lot of get-togethers.. & we've just eaten what was brought. I'm not trying to be cocky or fis-ee-shus (how do you spell that word? *heh*) or anything... it's just that I've never had the experience that you talked about in this blog entry. I honestly haven't... cross my heart. I really am a hillbilly, I think. ===:-O

I've never eaten with real silver utensils either. I heard that my Mom had a real silver tea set when I was a kid but I think my older brother got it when my parents moved to a smaller house, when I was 12. I've seen it in pictures but I've never seen it in person.

I have a friend who is sort of prim & proper (said in a loving way!) here in town & I love her to pieces!!! But I would never be comfortable "traveling in her circle" of friends. She & I are friends, through some weird cosmic happening, and we love each other... but our group of friends are totally different. She would definitely have attended a cocktail party... probably dozens & dozens in her adult life. She could undoubtedly totally relate to what you've said here, Daja, and experienced the same. But I honestly don't know anything about etiquette or whatever. I know I would do something stupid at a gathering like you describe. It would be me that would bring the big ole pot 'o soup. The only difference is... I would always bring the plastic bowls & spoons too. <3 <3 <3

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