Another suggestion would be to separate the two quickly and give them both a task. For example, ask one to help clear the table and the other with the trash. The main thing is to get them off topic and away from each other.
One reader was heartbroken when a piece of china belonging to her deceased grandmother was accidentally broken by a family member. While she was upset by the piece being broken, she was more hurt that the family member did not apologize for the unfortunate mishap.
Remember, if you break an item, first and foremost apologize, and then offer to pay for, or replace the item.
I received several comments about poor table manners. Surprisingly, these were not just about children but adults as well. Complaints ranged about everything from Uncle Joe (all names have been changed) chewing with his mouth open, Cousin Lynn smacking her lips after every bite, George blowing his nose at the table, Jerry "double dipping," Janet eating with her fingers, and Ingrid using her fork like a shovel.
One of the most offensive stories involved a new twist on how rude people can be with their cell phones. A mother wrote that her adult daughter, son-in-law, 23-year-old grandson and 20-year-old granddaughter texted each other throughout the entire Thanksgiving dinner. "Apparently they were texting a private joke because the four of them would burst out laughing right in the middle of dinner, leaving the rest of us seated at the table wondering what was so funny."
My heart goes out to this reader. The next time, she should announce that the table is a technology-free zone and that she will be glad to provide a quiet place for folks to use their devices after dinner. The dinner table is no place for phones, DVD players, hand-held games or any other techno toy.
Before the next round of holidays begins, do yourself, your friends and family a favor by brushing up on your manners. This could go a long way in helping to create peace, as well as make the holidays a little more manageable and merrier!
Pam Harvit, MS, is a certified corporate etiquette and protocol consultant. She is employed by Merck and Co. and lives in Charleston. E-mail her at phar...@suddenlink.net.