I'm feeling rather "off." That could be
due to all that I have on my plate. But
honestly, I must admit that it's because
I'm consumed with guilt. You see, it's
well into the first full week of January
and I've yet to write my holiday thank
you notes. One may question why am
I writing this blog rather than doing my
duty. Others might wonder why I feel
guilt given I was raised Protestant and
am no longer a practicing Catholic. Is
it silly to worry given few seem to still
mail handwritten notes of gratitude?
By the book
The answer to all of the above is simple.
I was raised by a woman who instead of
being called "Miss Manners" should be
hailed as the etiquette Nazi. Hence if or
when I stray from Emily Post's rules of
order, a not so quiet voice whispers into
my ear saying "SHAME ON YOU!" It
may be lovely to still be in contact with
one's long lost Mother. However contact
only seems to occur when activities such
as saying thank you are deferred. All of
a sudden dear Ethel reaches out from the
grave to wring my neck long distance!
One can't deny that we are products
of our past. And while we all evolve
as we mature, most of our most basic
instincts never fade away with time.
Obviously manners were extremely
important to my Mother. So much
so that she literally tortured me for
most of my childhood. In the end I
must regretfully admit that most of
said brain washing was to my benefit.
The simple act of standing up when
a lady arrives at or leaves the table
has served me well. Am I'm slipping?
Are we finished?
At some point even the most resolved
of gentlemen can make a few mistakes.
Especially in circumstances that are
beyond their control. Could it be that
in order to have manners one must be
of the manor born? Civility requires
quite a bit of amount of time, effort,
and resolve. Therefore it makes sense
that those of us with too much on our
plates can easily forget to place our
knife and fork at four o'clock after we
have licked the porcelain clean. Does
that make us barbarians or realists?!
Some consider gestures like holding
doors open for ladies archaic. Yet
I've found that kindness and courtesy
never go out of style. While carriages
no longer ply the avenue, I still feel
the need to accompany a girlfriend
via a position on the curbside. Why
shouldn't we gentleman step into a
revolving door first so as to propel
our lady friends to a better place?!
It seems that courteous behavior is
slowly becoming a thing of the past.
Has civilization come full circle?
Technology aside, my inner brahmin tells
me that the ways of the past are still equally
important in these ever challenging times.
If for no other reason that playing by said
rules simply makes life a little easier. You
see, within the context of gentility, the rules
and hence our related roles are very clearly
defined. Which ultimately not only makes
our world a kinder and gentler place but in
all actuality much easier to navigate. And
as always good manners are if nothing else -
good for all of us. In essence it's all about
giving and receiving - RESPECT that is.
From the heart
Just when we think the world as we know
it is about to end, something reminds us
that all is not lost. Yesterday an envelope
arrived from Frank's Aunt "H." Enclosed
within was something more than just an
obligatory jotted gesture. Instead it was
a carefully crafted communique. While
in theory it's purpose was to acknowledge
a gift, in reality said message was a much
greater gift back. Aunt "H" took the time
to make it personal. To share memories
and reinforce the connection thats makes
family... family! All we can say is thanks!
Return to sender
Some consider such rites of passage
tedious obligations. I prefer to think
of them as acts of respect. If you're
kind enough to do something for
me, I must acknowledge all that you
given me. Which brings me back to
my angst over missing missives. The
fact is even if modern society opts to
differ, I've got a job to do. Therefore
as soon as I finished typing this blog,
I plan to put pen to paper. And so as
my Mother always used to say...
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!