I miss good manners. I'm sure if I revealed my feelings on this subject to anyone under the age of 30, they would laugh out loud. As a teenager, I used to pore over my mom's Emily Post Etiquette Book to learn what was expected in social situations. I remember going to dancing classes at the high school. In addition to learning the fox trot and waltz, we were expected to observe the social niceties of dressing up, shaking hands and being polite. When I was in college, the food service started the tradition of a steak and lobster dinner once a month. In order to be admitted to this Saturday event, both men and women had to dress like they were going to church. The resulting atmosphere was amazingly civilized.
When I got married, my mother was all over me about proper manners. On the way to a bridal shower at the home of one of her friends, she admonished me to "act like a bride." I think she meant squealing in delight over each gift, which was not exactly my style, but I did my best. Thank-you notes for these gifts were to be in the mail within a few days. Same for wedding presents. When we returned from our honeymoon, there was intense pressure from her to get those notes out even though I was teaching full-time and there were about 200 to write.
Flying seems to reveal the worst of manners. People are just plain rude, jockeying to get their ridiculously stuffed bags in the overhead compartment. You see passengers in flip- flops, sleeveless T-shirts and ripped jeans. Parents let their kids kick the seat in front of them and generally act obnoxious.
When I worked in the development office of a large children's health system in Delaware, we put on an annual gala, including a sit-down dinner, for 700 people. It was a huge amount of work for our staff. We found that people fell into one of these categories: 1. They were attending. 2. Not attending but showed up anyway. 3. They said they were coming but didn't. It usually balanced out, but caused a lot of angst and running around for the person responsible for seating. Most women came in beautiful long gowns, but there were always a few who attracted attention with a dress that was way too revealing or shouldn't have been worn by them in the first place.
I have only a couple of friends who send written thank-you notes or letters. Now these communications are often phone calls, texts or emails. Something has gotten lost in our digital world. One quality I admired in the elder George Bush was that he hand-wrote dozens of personal notes each day. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm finding that my mother was right about manners and their importance in a civilized world. So there.
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I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.