The Day Goblin

I have been enjoying reading a book about etiquette in the Civil War Era.  As I was reading last evening, I came across a chapter on visiting.  I thought, “Oh, I recently wrote about visiting etiquette.  I wonder what this book has to say?”  I was actually surprised at how close I was in my assumptions to what it would have been like a hundred and fifty years ago.

One thing struck me:  The Day Goblin.
Such a funny term that I have not yet heard, especially in a book about proper etiquette.  I have to share this with you, it is so funny and yet so true…

“With respect to the first, be very careful that you do not acquire the character of a day goblin.  A day goblin is one of those persons who, having plenty of leisure, and a great desire to hear themselves talk, make frequent inroads into their friends’ houses.  Though perhaps well acquainted with the rules of etiquette, they call at the most unseasonable hours.  If the habits of the family are early, you will find them in the drawing-room at eleven o’clock.  It may be they are agreeable and well-informed people; but who wishes for calls at such a strange hour!  Most families have their rules and occupations.  In one, the lady of the house attends to the education of her children; in another, domestic affairs engross a portion of the morning; some ladies are fond of grading, others of music or painting.  It is a past endurance to have such pursuits broken in upon for the sake of a day goblin, who, having gained access, inflicts his or her presence till nearly luncheon time, and then goes off with saying, ‘Well, I have paid you a long visit;’ or ‘I hope that I have not stayed too long.'”~Louis Martine 1866


I have been a day goblin.   I have had day goblins in my home as well.  On Sunday, I had a day goblin stop in-which has been a daily occurrence with this person.  Then, to flee the oppression of it, I became a day goblin to another lady.  I tried to stay long enough at her home to be sure the day goblin who was at my home would be gone when I returned.  A little selfish, I say!

Tea Party at Shalom’s…
Shalom is Michael and Debi Pearl’s fourth child.  She is one of the sweetest ladies you will ever meet and I am so blessed to have her for a friend.  After church on Sunday, Shalom’s daughter Gracie came up to my girls and invited them for tea.  They told her that they could come after lunch.

We went home and started to make some bean burritos by cooking and mashing canned pinto beans.  It was a lovely lunch with our family.  I knew that we would be visiting Shalom’s that afternoon so I thought about good visiting etiquette.  I want to practice what I preach.

First, we made a batch of cookies to share.  I found my grandmothers old 1950s cookie tin and carefully placed our warm gingersnaps in there.  The girls were happily washing dishes while I baked the cookies.

Thud, thud, thud…in walks our day goblin.  He sits down and I quickly get him a glass of water and a cookie.  He demands our undivided attention.  I realized that the fellowship with my daughters was now over and the attention must turn towards our guest.  The guest who we love and want to be helpful towards, but, none the less, we could no longer engage in our sweet working conversation.  I quickly gathered up some chamomile tea and a half gallon of fresh milk and apologized for having to cut our visit short that day as the girls and I made our exit.

As I was driving down the road, I took time to explain why we were bringing these things to Shalom…

“When we visit for tea, it is good to bring a treat to pass so that we are not a burden but a blessing.”

Gracie greeted us very happily at the door while stating that her mother was taking a nap and her father was out of town for that day.  The littlest one had torn apart a box full of paper shavings and the sink was full of dishes.  I asked her if it was okay for us to come in.  She said “of course, mamma would not mind.”

Megan swept the mess off the floor while Molly helped tend to the little ones.  I washed up all the dishes knowing that at one time I was a young mamma and I would have loved an extra hand when I was tired.

I brought my percolating tea pot, so I made some tea for the children. I found some pretty cups and saucers, a creamer that I filled with the milk I brought from our family cow, and filled a bowl with our fresh baked cookies.


I turned on some classical music and began a lesson on a proper tea party.  I taught the little girls how to sit up straight with a good posture and ask politely for a cup of tea.

“Would you care for a cup of tea, Gracie?” Megan asked in an English Accent

“Yes, please” Gracie responded after my cue.

And on and on we kept this tea party going.  The phone rang and Gracie picked up the phone.  She remained in a proper, lady-like manner on the phone and it was so cute. (see how straight they are sitting)


They clicked their cups together.  The girls were learning how to be little ladies with good manners.


Shalom woke from her nap and was so thankful for the clean up and the tea party with her children.  We sat down together, while the girls went in the other room to play.  They were writing letters to each other.  It was so adorable.  There were these little mailboxes that they made to put the letters into.  Great girl fun.

I stayed to visit with Shalom while the children played.  I could see she was having a headache and that she was very tired.  My first priority should have been to get out of her hair so she could rest, but I kept on talking.  As I recall, I actually said two times “Well, I should be going.  You should rest.  I do not want to overstay my welcome.”  Each time I would say this, I would find a chair and sit down and we would visit yet a little longer.

I am sure she did not feel like I was a bother, but I try to love my neighbor as myself, knowing if I were her with a headache, I would want to be laying down in my bed, resting not trying to keep up with a conversation.

I do not want to acquire the name of a day goblin!!

After staying that long, I realized that, even though she appreciated the tea, cookies and milk, she would have still rather had more rest.  I am constantly trying to observe what things I may be doing and how my actions may affect others-thus loving my neighbor as myself.  I had a little check in my spirit about wearing out my welcome, but it wasn’t until I read that day goblin passage in the book that it became more clear to me.

It is interesting to read this book of etiquette.  The author, who wrote this book
over a hundred and fifty years ago, addressed all aspects of social etiquette in his era, from visiting, marriage, and dinner parties.  He writes about how if you are invited to a dinner party, it is customary to pay a followup visit in gratitude.  It is called a visit of ceremony. Knowing what time to come is crucial and also not staying too long-being sensitive to other’s time and needs.

“Visits of ceremony must be necessarily short.  They should on no account be made before the hour, nor yet during the time of luncheon.  Persons who intrude themselves at unwonted hours are never welcome; the lady of the house does not like to be disturbed whiten she is perhaps dining with her children; and the servants justly complain of being interrupted at he hour they they assemble for their noon-day meal.  Ascertain, therefore, which you can readily do, what is the family hour for luncheon, and act accordingly.

Half an hour amply suffices for a visit of ceremony.  If during your short visit the conversation begins to flag, it will be best to retire.  The lady of the house may have some engagement at that fixed hour, and by remaining even few minutes longer, she may be put to serious inconvenience.  Do no, however seem to notice any silent hint, by rising hastily; but that leave with quiet politeness, as if your time were fully expired.  When other visors are announced, retire as soon as possible, and yet without letting it appear that their arrival is the cause.  Wait till the bustle of the entrance is over, and then rise from your chair, take leave of the hostess, and bow politely to the guests. By so doing you will save the lady of the house from being obliged to entertain two sets of visitors. ” ~Louis Martine 1866

Good advice for even today.  Perhaps we could all use a refresher, myself included.  The sad thing is that these are lost skills that our grandparents knew and practiced.  Modern society is void of good teaching on etiquette.  People tend to be out for themselves-what feels good to them.  I think it is a good thing to consider others above ourselves.  To truly love our neighbor as ourself.  It is a teaching of Jesus.  When we love our neighbor as ourself, we consider these fine details important.

Send this to a friend