I do hope you are thoroughly enjoying the new year. I am quite excited about all the fresh new things going on in my life, both personally and professionally. I’ve received a great many requests to write a series on manners and etiquette, and now that I have the proper format, I am only too happy to oblige! The art of manners and etiquette is quickly eroding away as time progresses. One need only take a trip to the local Wal-Mart or drive in rush hour traffic to understand what I mean.
Sadly, when most people think of manners and etiquette they think of rules meant to dominate life; hard, cold, feeling-less things forcing us into social servitude. But the truth is manners and etiquette aren’t about us at all, they are about the people around us. They are a standardized set of behaviors meant to help us in unfamiliar territory. For instance, if one is invited to tea, but has never attended such a social gathering, manners and etiquette are there to save the day! With just a bit of coaching one will know how to hold a teacup, eat finger foods, and engage in polite conversation without offense or embarrassment. To quote Emerson, “Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices”. Indeed, good manners are devoid of selfishness.
Etiquette guides us through all life situations: love and courtship, marriage, children, finances, social gatherings, even divorce and death. Etiquette is such an important aspect of life it is one of the first lessons we learn as children. As soon as we are able to speak, we are taught to say “please” and “thank you.” As tikes being introduced to social situations we learn to share, to take turns, and not to interrupt. Yet somewhere along the way we forget many of those lessons. We neglect to thank our server, we cut people off in traffic, we forget that we are not the only inhabitants in this great wide world. In this modern world of rush, rush, rush, I, I, me, me, ME we have lost the beauty of ritual, refinement, and grace.
I am thrilled to be able to introduce these things back to the world in whatever small way I can. Every month will feature a post on Manners and Etiquette taken from my favorite vintage resources and modernized a bit for today’s less refined world. I hope you will take what you learn in this series and share it. Think of it as Ms. Manners pays it forward. If there is anything you would like to see covered here or have a question about etiquette, please do drop me a line!