Guest post by Oh My Goodness Gracious friend Sarah Marie Powell!
A confession of my transgressions…
In all facets of my life, I am undeniably guilty of a charge once set forth by my father: “Sally, you are one hell of a contradiction.” Wow – talk about hitting the nail on the head!
- I love fashion and shopping, but I would rather watch Sports Center than The Real Housewives;
- I am painfully organized, but I rarely make my bed;
- And, finally, I am overly-concerned with etiquette, but I’m likely to burp as I remind you the salt and pepper travel as a pair.
I cannot remember how I got hooked on Emily Post, but it happened, and I can’t go back. I own multiple copies of Etiquette, a first edition of The Personality of a House, and I’m currently reading Laura Claridge’s biography of my idol. This obsession has caused nauseating pain in my life. I am a glutton for punishment. Thankfully, my gracious friend Allison has now given me an outlet for my insufferable knowledge (though she may not know what she’s gotten herself into).
Allow me to (politely) set the record straight…
Once upon a time, etiquette was highly-regarded as the way of life. Everyone said please and thank you, tables were set beautifully, utensils were used correctly, and Emily Post was revered as a goddess.
Through the pages of my coveted 1945 edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette, I am able to travel to this fantasyland of a world that once was. I revel in dreams of courting, hand-written correspondence, and true ladies and gentlemen behaving as such.
We don’t live in that world anymore, and it’s a shame.
Today, delivering a thank-you note produces a shocked response, dinner is served in the living room, and you’re considered “weird” if you know any-and-everything about Emily Post.
So, where does etiquette fit in this world of 140-characters-or-less, pins, and likes? Some would say it doesn’t. I beg to differ. It fits everywhere – it is everywhere.
The first pages of the 18th edition (2011) of Etiquette prove my theory true:
Manners by their very nature adapt to the times. While today’s manners may be more situational, tailored to particular circumstances and the expectations of those around us, they remain a combination of common sense, generosity of spirit, and a few specific “rules” that help us interact thoughtfully. And as fluid as manners are, they all rest on the same fundamental principles: respect, consideration, and honesty.
That’s not enough, you say? I hear you, haters. I hear your accusations that etiquette is elitist; that following (and expecting others to follow) these unheard-of rules is snobby. Emily heard your cries, too. And way back in 1945, long before you started whining, she answered them:
One is apt to think of Etiquette as being of importance to none but brides or diplomats or persons lately elected to political office. As a matter of fact, there is not a single thing that we do, or say, or choose, or use or even think, that does not follow (or break) one of the exactions of taste, or tact, or ethics, or good manners, or etiquette – call it what you will.
Myths abound as skeptics continue to challenge my beliefs. Well, doubters, allow me to close by (politely) setting the record straight: