Holiday Etiquette by Miss Abigail Jenkins


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Margaret Brownley


I love when readers write to tell me what they like about my books. It’s not always what I expect.  For example, in book one of my Rocky Creek series Timber Joe was what I call a throw-away character.  I had no intention of giving him a role to play in future books.  Imagine my surprise when readers wrote asking for more of him. As a result, Timber Joe got a reprieve from my editing pen—and will even have a happy ending in book three. 


However, the biggest surprise by far is the number of letters I received on a none-existing person.  In A SUITOR FOR JENNY the heroine refers to an etiquette book entitled The Compleat and Authoritative Manual for Attracting and Procuring a Husband “authored” by Miss Abigail Jenkins. I laugh each time someone writes to inquire about the author or ask where the book can be found.


No such book exists, of course, I made it up.  But since Miss Jenkins gets more fan mail than I do, I thought it would be fun to see what advice, if any, she would have for the holidays—if she really did exist.   


Holiday Etiquette


Miss Abigail Jenkins 1875


  • Criticizing a suitor’s gift will gain you no favor.  A man who thinks it’s the thought that counts must simply be taught to think bigger. 


  • When caught beneath the mistletoe respond with lady-like restraint. Avoid swooning or appearing overly-eager. A delicate blush will suffice.


  • Resist the temptation to write long, tiresome letters listing your past year’s accomplishments.  Such crass endeavors will make recipients feel inferior, and mark you as a braggart.


  • Avoid giving frivolous or ostentatious gifts.  Ladies on your list will appreciate an ostrich plume, a gift both practical and beautiful. A tasteful snuff box will suit most gentleman’s needs.  For the mountain man or miner on your list, a pair of woolen socks would make a practical gift.


  • Anyone who overindulges in alcohol should leave weapons at the door. This applies to both men and women.


  • If, as a guest, you are forced to share a bed with another, stay on your own side and do not hog the blankets.


  • Never overstay your welcome.  Fish and visitors tend to lose their appeal after only three days.


  • When holiday shopping at your local general store or mercantile, never make disparaging remarks about the price or quality of goods.  Anyone exhibiting such rude behavior deserves to pay double.


  • Never discuss politics or religion in polite company; it will only cause ill-will and indigestion.  Should an unpleasant discourse threaten the peace, smile serenely and quickly change the subject.


  • When walking on ice or snow, take small dainty steps.  Never raise the hem of your skirt above the top of your boot.  If you should slip, fall, or otherwise meet with misfortune, grace, modesty and a pleasant disposition must prevail at all times.  


A Note (plea) from Margaret


I don’t know what Miss Jenkins would say about shamelessly promoting oneself–or one’s friends–but I will sacrifice good manners and lady-like reputation to ask you to vote for the Best Western Romance of 2010.  Several of us fillies are nominated and we need your support!  It’s easy.  You don’t have to join anything, and you might even win a prize.  Even Miss Jenkins would have no objections to that.  Here’s the link:



When looking for a husband it’s best to go where the odds are in your favor.

A Suitor for Jenny (A Rocky Creek Romance) 



Merry Chocolate Everyone!

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27 thoughts on “Holiday Etiquette by Miss Abigail Jenkins”

  1. Love the rules, especially the one about being caught under the mistletoe!

    Margaret, this book has one of my favorite covers of the year. This cover is practically a live action short for the book!

    Merry Chocolate and Happy Holidays to you!

    Peace, Julie

  2. Julie, I see you have kissing on your mind. Hmmm.

    It is a fun cover, though at first I worried that readers would misinterpret the plural word husbands.

    Sending tons of mistletoe your way.

  3. Love the rules. Many still apply.
    As in life, we all see different things in people. Your readers just saw depths of your characters that you didn’t realize existed. It is actually quite a compliment.
    A story about Miss Abigail Jenkins would be fun. After heading out West, she just might discover some of her rules may not apply.

    A Merry Chocolate to you too. Have a great 2011.

  4. I’ve read some authentic 19th century etiquette guides, and Miss Jenkins fits right in. Some of the advice is so ridiculous it makes me laugh. Some rules I wish we still enforced. LOL

    I love your splashes of humor, Margaret, and Miss Abigail Jenkins fits the bill admirably.

  5. Hi Karen,

    I can only imagine what Miss Jenkins would think about today’s lack of good manners. I almost got trampled on just walking into Target. And an Old West shootout would have been a piece of cake compared to the fight for a parking space. Better leave those weapons home when heading for the mall!

  6. Margaret, I really loved Miss Jenkins’ advice. It really added something to the book. How funny that readers think her book is a real one and are trying to find it. The same thing happened to suspense writer Dean Koontz. He ended up having to write and publish his book of sayings to satisfy his readers. That may be what you’ll end up doing also. LOL But, seriously, I think that’s an excellent suggestion.

    I loved A Suitor for Jenny! Keep those books coming.

  7. Oh, Margaret, just reading about Miss Abigail Jenkins brought back memories of your book. So much fun to read. I do like the suggestion of making a story about her from Patricia.
    Living in our rural area, we don’t have a mall any where close, so I don’t have to worry about angry people carrying weapons. Just drunks who fall out of the swinging doors at Jakes! (It actually has swinging doors).
    Merry Chocolate to you, too.

  8. Margaret,
    I am buying myself a kindle for Christmas and this is one of the first books I’m going to get for it. I’ve loved the premise for this book ever since you first talked about it and these rules–just too funny. Looks like a wonderful story.

  9. Hi Margaret, I just love the one about not hogging the bed covers LOL. I’m loading up my Kindle, too. I like to read stuff by my filly-sisters. oxoxox Hugs and Merry Christmas!

  10. And Margaret, Jakes is now owned by a woman. Know her and her husband well. You really need to stop and see it. It will blow your mind. Really Old Timey.
    Mary J

  11. I love Miss Abigail Jenkins. Your next book should be titled “The Compleat and Authoritative Manual for Attracting and Procuring a Husband”. It would be a riot. I just finished a marvelous bible study called Holy in Singleness. I am going to print out some of Miss Abigail Jenkin’s quotes on one sheet to hand out to the Daughters of the King, aged 16-21. Marvelous! I went through every chapter ahead of time and read them aloud to my husband. We were both chuckling! I await your newest book by your alias, Miss Abigail Jenkins! Seriously, you could influence young single gals with scripture and teachings through Miss Abigail. It could assist anyone trying to teach etiquette, cooking, hospitality, and Christ! Think about it, pray about it…..I hope to read it some day soon!

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