Etiquette – a fading art that helped others feel more comfortable in their environment.
The other night I received a phone call after 10 pm – well after the entire family had already shut down for the night. The sound of the ringing phone only woke me, but it could have cause issues. Etiquette once taught that calling after 9 pm was unacceptable.
The other day I attended a birthday party with my son. The young host ripped open the paper of the gifts one after the other – only pausing long enough to grab the next gift. He offered up no nod of appreciation and no words of thanks. No thank you came in the mail after the party either. Etiquette once taught that thank you was more important than the giving of the gift (even a thank you for being present).
The other weekend we sent out invitations to a gathering we were hosting. We had planned on providing all the food and all the drinks – as well as opening up our home as the hose location. The only request we had was that people let us know if they were going to be able to attend. Not a single invitee took the time to respond. We finally followed up with phone calls just days before the event to get an accurate count. Etiquette once taught people to let the host know your intentions and then to follow through on what you said you would do.
Thank you notes, responses, and simple consideration are all actions and activities that are part of proper etiquette. Etiquette – in its true form – is about showing appreciation and consideration for others.
This world had gotten caught up in the tradition of “what have you done for me.” We are teaching those coming up that it is more important to consider what I want and need than it is to think about others.
I grew up with etiquette as an essential part of my life. I sent thank you notes and responded promptly to invitations. I considered the act of thank you to be an art and I worked hard to master it. I taught my own children the art of etiquette and stayed on them for most of their upbringing.
Only, the selfishness of the world began to seep into my own actions and attitudes. Before long, I had a stack of things that needed notes or a thank you or a simple response. I had planned on getting around to writing them, but I had put other things ahead of those actions.
I let the etiquette slip from my home until all that was left was a pile of good intentions.
It takes five minutes to write a thank you note. It takes less than that to fill out an RSVP. It takes a few minutes to make a phone call.
I can keep making excuses or I can get back to the good manners that are revealed when etiquette is the habit.