Lifestyle

Elbows Off the Table, Mabel: Do You Still Follow These Manners?

By  | 

In Texas, we’re known for being polite. Seriously. We say “Yes, ma’am,” “Thank you, sir,” the whole nine yards. We hold doors open for people, and try desperately not to fume with road rage in today’s modern times (although some drivers are making that relatively hard). Sometimes, the manners we thought were general rules to live by can change. One such “rule” was to never place your elbows on the table. How many of y’all were raised this way?

Over time, it appears that some of you have changed your course on this behavior, and we’re wondering if it’s out of convenience, or if the rules have changed. This question was posed to the Manners Mentor website, to which their response was: “We’re less formal now than back in our grandmother’s time. Strictly speaking, still today, our elbows don’t belong on the table. Only things used for eating go on the table.” They also noted that by placing your elbows off the table, you’ll be sitting up straighter than otherwise, which is certainly a perk to following this old rule. This upright posture has a number of benefits, from the health of your back to the fact you’ll be seen as more of an authority by those around the table.

Elbows Off the Table, Mabel: Do You Still Follow These Manners?

Photo: Wikimedia

Although we may have once only attributed this mannerism to politeness at the dinner table, you can see there was definitely more to it. Even today, the benefits of keeping your elbows off the table ring true. The origins of this act appear to be a bit vague. One site references it as being a British tradition; the need to provide space to fellow diners out of respect. Another site simply states that only food items belong on the table, and the practice of keeping your elbows off of it was simply the act of recognizing that. Whatever its beginnings, it took a strong hold throughout the U.S. and particularly in the south. Many a Texas family continues the act of keeping their elbows off the table simply as a past practice which made sense to maintain. What’s your belief on the subject? Does your family continue this practice? If you’ve changed this practice, why so?