Discuss the state of modern manners
I look to the New Year with much enthusiasm. A new year, a fresh start, and a perfect time to discuss the state of modern manners.
According to my absolute favorite Miss Manners the incomparable Judith Martin, we will “not let you off from sending letters of thanks, answering invitations, and refraining from telling people your honestly demeaning opinion of them.” But, here are some things you don’t have to do:
- Hug your colleagues
- Help cater your friends’ dinner parties
- Allow your guests to dictate the menu
- Answer nosy questions
- Subsidize luxuries for the solvent
- Buy presents for your boss
- Stay on the telephone with telemarketers
- Continue to give presents to people who don’t acknowledge them
- Have a ring to be engaged
- Give or attend multiple bridal or baby showers
- Give a series of presents to the same couple who are having a series of parties
- Go into debt for a lavish wedding.
- Throw a party for someone who asked you to do so
- Buy things you don’t want because your friends or their children are selling them
- Respond to everyone’s inane or vainglorious postings
- Put teaspoons on the table unless you are serving tea”
I love checking in with an expert! It’s very freeing to understand the do’s AND the don’ts. Keep in mind however, the voluntary restraint used to avoid antagonizing others unnecessarily is etiquette and there are NO exemptions to being considerate of others. Check yourself, and be as generous as your budget will allow with time, talent and treasure. Don’t be swayed with false etiquette; social milestones are not commercial deals, and presents should only be given when motivated by warm feelings.
P.S. Send those thank you notes.