Warning: inappropriate language, but a good object lesson for me.
Our holiday celebrations can include thirty to forty people, since we all feel free to invite in-laws, friends, and new-comers. Everyone is welcome and made family. The host usually provides meat and bread, with guests bringing side dishes, relish trays, salad or desserts. If you are ever around, you will be included. We are an affable crowd so when everybody’s arriving, it’s often hard to see or hear who you are greeting.
I was reminded of this to my humiliation one Christmas. I was standing at the sink, prepping for dinner when a large group came in the back door. It just looked like our usual group of relatives and friends, when I caught a partial view of a woman coming in on crutches. Foolishly inferring it was one of my sisters, cousins, nieces, or sisters-in-law. Instead of the polite greeting socially acceptable normal people give, I blurted out. “Well, hello! Who’s gimpy today?” I didn’t hesitate, jumping right into the worst thing, I could have said in a situation calling for sensitivity. Thinking I was teasing a close family member dealing with a temporary encumbrance did not excuse me. It was not a family member, nor even anyone I knew. The young lady was a guest. I never knew if she heard me or not. I sincerely hope not, but I was so mortified. I apologized ineptly, explaining I mistook her for family. It was one of the most embarrassing gaffes I have ever made. Since then, I any offensive language language under any circumstance. There is NO right time.