Monday, December 5, 2011

Miss Manners

Emily Post, courtesy of The Charm School Gazette
One of the subjects that always seems to be on my mind this time of year is manners.  I love little social niceties.  In fact, for me, good etiquette goes hand in hand with a love of vintage, because I don't just love the clothing and the style, I love the culture.  I love the idea of baking for a neighbor, or clearing the snow from an elderly friend's driveway.  I like donating to worthy causes and involving my children in making gifts for the folks at the nursing home.  I like the concept of dressing for the holidays, of setting a table and sharing a meal with family.  I like "pleases and thank yous", holding open doors and sharing pleasantries with sales people.

Amy Vanderbilt, courtesy of
I'm often saddened to see these kinds of behaviors fall by the wayside in our current society.  A little piece of me dies when I hear people have trampled on or pepper sprayed each other in an attempt to be the first to get something.  I hate hearing customers treating sales people badly, or on the flip side, witnessing poor customer service.  I don't like to hear children demanding things of their parents, or hearing parents speak harshly to their kids.

Now, I'm not completely naive about the ways of the world.  I'm sure that people in the earlier decades had their faults as well and that I am seeing things a little bit through rose colored glasses, and I know that there are people today who are kind, generous and courteous (in fact many of them are my friends ;)  However, it seems to me that the culture of decades like the 40's and 50's, for example, strived for good manners.  Conversely, today, we are constantly bombarded by examples like "Jersey Shore" or "Real Housewives"  and frequently witness the public destruction of marriages and the glorification of general bad behavior.

Mary Brooks Picken, courtesy of

All that being said, one of the things I plan to strive for this year is to do my (small) part to make my little world an environment of warmth and courtesy.  I believe the first step towards making a change is to start with the only thing you can control...yourself!  Here are a few changes I plan to begin with:
  • Patience is a virtue - This is by far the hardest for me.  I think fast, move fast and generally prefer to do everything myself.  I'm sure this creates anxiety for people who have to deal with me, so I am making a concious effort to slow...down..
  • Acknowledge your fellow man - Some days I walk around in a complete haze.  Friends later tell me that they waved at me as I drove by, or someone will have to repeat themselves because I didn't notice them the first time.  I'm sure there are many opportunites in my day to day life to connect with others that I miss because I'm in my own little world.  I plan to make more of an effort to remain in the moment, to smile and reach out to others.
  • Remember to say thanks! - I'm actually pretty good at remembering my pleases and thank yous (probably because I'm such a stickler for it with the kiddos) but I don't often remember to send out thank you cards.  I think they are such a lovely gesture, and I so enjoy getting them myself, that I plan to make sure I write up my list early after the holiday season and get them in the mail!
  • No more cussing- I've honestly never been much of a cusser.  In fact, I did not utter my first "bad word" till I was in my 20's (I blame The Man!)  Truthfully, I dislike the harshness of the way cuss words sound and I never curse in front of the kids, so I'm hoping it won't take too much effort to remove them from my vocabulary entirely ;)
It's a start!  I also would like to add some etiquette posts to the Home Ec series.  I have several vintage books on the subject and I think it would be fun to cover some of the topics still relevant to today.  (And don't think I've forgotten that I promised you all a Home Ec post on making fudge and caramels!  My girls and I are making a big batch of candy on Saturday and I plan to take plenty of pictures and post the recipes ;)

Hugs and Smooches,


  1. I have Amy Vanderbilt's book around here somewhere. It would make a great prize! like the etiquette contest? I have no idea where I'm going with this.

    Love the post!

  2. Love it, D, and agree with every single little thing you said except, ummmm, for the part about profanity >.>

  3. These are some great ideas - I think I need to incorporate a few into my life as well. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Ooo, I can't wait to read your etiquette posts!

  5. Well said and I agree with Kate, I also can't wait to read your etiquette posts. I think I'll also try to up my own manners, because frankly, I think a bit more kindness is exactly what the world needs now. x


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