December 10, 2012

Lenore & Archibald's First Christmas Tree

written by Rosa Morgan

Lenore stood on the underground train as it rattled it's way to Paddington station. It was one of those dreary London mornings shrouded in fog when all the men in her cabin displayed not a shred of chivalry and continued to read their newspapers rather than offer her a seat.

Shrugging away the insult, she took the opportunity to peruse their papers and to her delight came upon the latest edition of the Illustrated London News. There on its cover was the royal family gathered round their live Christmas tree. She had heard that several years before the German Prince Albert had introduced the tradition to his wife, Queen Victoria, and she had embraced the custom each year at Windsor Castle. If only Archibald would agree, Lenore was certain it would be a glorious sight to behold in her bay window.

 And so that night when they were enjoying much frivolity at 
the parson's house, Archibald playfully led Lenore directly under the mistletoe. Though she longed to kiss his warm lips, she giggled and squirmed like a schoolgirl, saying she would bestow him a kiss on one condition: if they could procure an evergreen. Archibald laughed merrily, readily agreeing, for he had already thought of buying one as a surprise for her.

With the very next day having seen several feet of snowfall, Archibald arranged a sleigh ride into the countryside and to their mutual delight they found their tree.

 Their Tannenbaum was not an eight foot fir like the royals enjoyed, but rather a tiny spruce. However when it was alight with tapers and tinsel and homemade paper chains encircled its branches, it became the perfect tree.

Wishing You Good Tidings this Season!

December 7, 2012

Martha Louise Rayne's Etiquette for Being a Gracious Guest

written by Rosa Morgan

Fair reader,
Presently, I may not be a household name, but I was a pioneer in journalism, interviewing such notables as President Cleveland and Longfellow. One of my greatest coups was talking with Mary Todd Lincoln during her confinement in an insane asylum. I wrote for the Chicago Tribune, and penned several books, but it is my seminal work, “Gems of Deportment and Hints of Etiquette”, published in 1880, I wish to bring attention to. You see, I was doling out advice long before dear Miss Emily Post.

There is a plethora of manuals for being the perfect host, but little guidance for the guest. Respectfully, I attempt to fill the void.PunctualityCome at the hour invited, neither sooner nor later, and leave precisely when your term of invitation expires. Conform to the customs of the house. If the hostess announces, "Breakfast is at eight o'clock sharp”, you are bound to obey. On your departure, do not dawdle at the front door, allowing your host to catch his death of cold.

Conversation: Bright and easy talk does not demand great mental gifts, only alertness and carefully cultivated habit.
Dinner is a social hour, where conversation is the only expected amusement. Please leave newspapers, cheap literature, and mechanical contraptions at home. Gentlemen shouldn't gather in knots to discuss the races, nor ladies gossip in corners. It's advisable not to criticize works of art in private houses in order to prove familiarity. Conversing a whole evening with one person is tactless, as is expressing every thought which arises in your mind. -->
Congeniality:An ill tempered guest complaining about the weather or family pet is as welcome as sour milk. Most inducive to harmony is to take a hand at euchre, or join in any amusement your hostess suggests. If the guest-chamber lacks some element, say nothing unless it is indispensable. If however, your hostess has not made sufficient preparations for your comfort, make your excuses and depart gracefully, avoiding her invitations in future, and keeping your discomfiture locked in your own bosom.
Gratitude: Be conscientious of hosts, who must by necessity of economy, employ only one servant or none at all. They will appreciate your helping-hand as well as a heartfelt show of gratitude. Appropriate thank you gifts would be a spittoon for the man of the house and perhaps a yard of fine ribbon for the woman's tresses.
With sincere fondness,
Mrs. Martha Louise Rayne
P.S. I hope my advice has not been too harsh. My only intention, dear guest, is for you to enjoy many happy returns.