Reader Response and Lovely Notes, Vol. 6, Issue 1

Readers alternately applauded and chastised Etiquetteer for rewriting "Away in a Manger" recently. One was even inspired to reply in verse!

Now now, dear Etiquetteer, I do so believe

You've never tried to find a sitter on Christmas Eve

My cherub was quiet all the way here in the car

But the lights and the music have brought out her voice thus far


Please do forgive parents, they really do mean well

And are in emotional agony trying their babe's cries to quell

Instruct, please, the ushers for next year to gently take

Parents with crying babes to nursery as their job, and make


The parents, who are mortified that NOW their babe is loud, oh, not good

Tried so hard to make this service, so meaningful from their own childhood

Some have never stepped foot in this church, or haven't in years

And the stress of the season has the parents close to tears


All they wanted, to a person, I bet, was one peaceful hour

Full of the sounds and songs of Christmas Eve, the glory and its power

It is not our place, as adults, to turn struggling ones away

But to offer comfort, and the nursery, and a hope for a better day


Seriously Etiquetteer, lots of new parents, particularly, seem to turn up at a church on Christmas Eve, hoping for some of what they remember of the magic of Christmas. They don't know, most of them where the church nursery is - never mind that it is staffed with patient and experienced volunteers, even on Christmas Eve.

Etiquetteer responds: Your spirited defense of New Parents is most appreciated, and you are quite right to point out that ushers have a duty to "keep the peace" by directing Those With Unruly Children to the church nursery. But Etiquetteer stands fast against those who behave in church as they would at a stadium, allowing their children to caterwaul or even walk around without any restraint.

From a former altar boy: I loved the new version of the Christmas hymn! I yowled out loud when I read it.

Etiquetteer responds: Etiquetteer can only hope you weren’t in church at the time.

From a devoted son: My parents insisted on Christmas Eve services this year, and though I am far less pious in my old age than they are in theirs, I agreed.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that at [Insert Name of Church Here] holds a children's service at 4:00 PM, with children both welcomed and participating in the activities (with the requisite meltdowns and bawling), followed by several grown-up services. That struck me as a perfectly proper solution to your own Christmas Eve lament.

I'm also wondering, what is the right age for children to send Perfectly Proper notes of thanks on their own stationary for gifts received? I have several young nieces and nephews from whom I have never received a thank-you note. To me, "thank-you duties" aren't complete without the note, even though, when the family is together, verbal thanks may have been exchanged at the time the gift was bestowed. Do these on-the-spot thanks substitute for written sentiments?

Etiquetteer responds: What a wonderful idea! Etiquetteer heartily encourages other churches to adopt a children’s service and grown-up services.

As to Lovely Notes of Thanks, Etiquetteer started giving his nephews and niece boxes of appropriate stationery when they turned six. When time permitted, Etiquetteer would actually sit down with them the day after Christmas to be sure those Lovely Notes got written. Ah, happy times . . .

On the other hand, Etiquetteer was completely charmed by his niece this year, who smilingly hand-delivered a Perfectly Proper Lovely Note not half an hour after the gifts had been opened.

You are quite correct that verbal thanks do not substitute for a Lovely Note. And as Etiquetteer writes this, That Mr. Dimmick Who Thinks He Knows So Much blushes with shame, since he hasn’t even started his Lovely Notes yet!

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