Monday, September 20, 2010

Modern Etiquette...and stuff

So, I've never read a Jane Austen book, but I want to... I just haven't gotten around to it.  I love the movies, and the fashion, and something about the "Oh, I... sorry, were you?  Oh, no?  Well... um.... alright then." makes me happy.

Which is all a preface to the fact that while there are many uncouth and improper things that I do, I am a fan of certain old fashioned practices and matters of etiquette.

I don't consider myself a terribly old-fashioned individual.  I tweet, I blog, I text.  I don't wear hose with every skirt or dress.  I wear pearls with denim.  Still, there are aspects of the past that I wish to revive.  Luckily, I have the help of some very fabulous women to make that happen.  Emily Post I am not, nor do I aspire to be, but it certainly wouldn't hurt my feelings to have my friends & colleagues consider me a thoughtful, respectful, and enjoyable person.

Old Fashioned hobbies that I'm not really good at, but enjoy that my friends participate in, because I reap the benefits due to their generosity:

Knitting--while I technically can knit, and crochet, I find I lack the patience to continue to knit long enough to make anything other than a headband.  It's not for lack of time, because I know for a fact that my friend Jen knits everywhere, all the time.  No, it's the patience.  My fingers get tired, I start looking at other things, and before I know it, the knitting is abandoned in my lap as I watch the cats chase their tails...

Preserves--I have assisted some lovely ladies in making jams & marmalade & preserves (no actual jelly, because we don't like it as much as the stuff that has real stuff in it--like fruit & rinds & good stuff). It was highly enjoyable, and I certainly enjoyed the fruits of my labors.  And I'm not opposed to doing it on my own, I just haven't really spent the time & energy to get the stuff to do it. You know, buying jars & fruit & stuff...

Gardening--I'm not actually allowed to attempt to grow things on my own, because plants don't usually tell me when they're thirsty, so I sort of forget about them, and they die.  I like gardens.  I love fresh grown vegetables & fruit.  I love the color of plants & herbs & little birdies & bees that they bring to other people's yards... again, my passion lies in other non-outside areas with other not-alive things.

Sewing--I successfully created a pair of curtains for my kitchen, with the help of my sister-in-law.  I had plans to create curtains for the other rooms in my house too--I bought fabric & everything.  Those plans have been put on hold due to my inability to aggregate my fecal matter long enough to make it the piddly 10 miles to my sister-in-law's house to finish making said curtains, swags, stagecoach shade valances, etc.  I wouldn't attempt it on my own, because I needed her help for things like math and logic.  All my skills in those areas are somewhat fabric-soluble.  I loose the ability to reason things out when looking at bolts of pretty fabric.  Just one more reason I shouldn't be left in a craft store alone.  I have delusions of competency in all manner of crafts...

Things that are often considered old-fashioned but shouldn't ever go out of style and I'm endeavoring to keep alive:

Thank You cards--I am not nearly as good at this as I should be, but every time I receive a beautiful, thoughtful little card thanking me for this or that, I vow to get better about doing it too.  It's such a simple thing, and it doesn't take that long.  If it weren't for my crippling inability to mail things, I think I would get lots of thank you cards sent.  And I'm not just talking about for major things like weddings and baby showers.  No.  Thank you cards can, and should, be sent for all manner of things.  Are you thankful?  Did someone go out of their way to do a thing that made your day and life better?  Well then... send a card!  It doesn't have to be a fancy card or fancy paper.  It doesn't have to have flowery, grandiose words.  It should be heartfelt, mention the specific thing you're thankful for, and sent as soon as possible.  That's it.  While there are lengthy lists of "do's and don'ts"  that's the basic gist right there.  And if you get a gift that you don't absolutely love, that doesn't mean you don't send a note or lie.  Show appreciation for the thought, time, and energy invested in it.  A simple "Thank you for the thoughtful (fill in the blank)." will do.

Hostess Gifts-- Ok, who doesn't like to get presents?  And when you spend so much time and energy working on getting your home ready for people, isn't it nice when people show that they value that?  A card, a note, a bottle of wine, a dish or drink to share.  They're not mandatory at most functions, but are always nice.  Your mother probably told you never to show up at someone else's house empty handed?  That's part of where this comes from.  It's a thank you for the invitation and an acknowledgment of their hard work in hosting you.  Want to contribute food or drink?  Check ahead of time, unless you know the person well enough to know what's going down, or it's stated in the invitation.  I, personally, won't object if you bring me tasty treats, but if you're attending a dinner party, you don't want to show up with a side dish that doesn't match the rest of the meal, or a dessert when the host/hostess has already gone all out on a Baked Alaskan... Just a simple call in advance to offer to bring whatever might be needed is not only thoughtful, but also shows the appreciation that comes from understanding what's involved in hosting. 

Aprons--Oh, for the glory of aprons!  One, I'm a messy cook, so the idea of wearing something that it's ok to get chocolate and flour and butter on is terribly appealing.  Also, when it comes to "company aprons" or "evening aprons" or "fancy little lacy fluffs that are for show and say 'I cook, and I look good doing it!'" it's all about accessorizing. It's functional fashion.  It means you're cooking--showing love through food.  Sometimes, I need the encouragement to actually get in the kitchen and make a meal, instead of reheating something from the freezer.  And if that means I get to wear some brightly colored ruffled thing to do it in, well sign me up!

The wearing of hats (and gloves)--I adore hats. In & out of the many costumes I wear, I like hats.  Fascinators and straw hats and top hats and cloches.  Yes, I like hats.  So we should wear them.  To parties and the theater and weddings and in the sun.  Don't feel silly.  Own it! Hats make you fabulous.  They make you stand out--and that's a good thing.  You don't want to be just another flower on the wall.  Wear a straw hat to a pool party, a felt hat to a wedding, and a fabulous floof of feathers to a cocktail party.  We decorate ourselves with clothes, our feet with shoes, our faces with make-up and of course, the all-mighty hairdo... but look into hats.  They're like jewelry for your head.

So, somewhere at the intersection of modern living and nostalgia is us--women who like the ease of internet communication, technology and gadgetry, who still wear hats & aprons, send thank you cards and bring hostess gifts.  Some dig in the dirt, some make preserves, some knit scarves.  And we take the best parts of the past and blend them with the good parts of the present to make sure they make it to see the future.


JWelch said...

Jewelery for your head, indeed.

To tag onto that, though, the blokes of the world should not feel exempt from the wear-a-hat campaign. Find one that suits your style - better yet, find a multitude of styles and procure suitable hats for each. Baseball caps are not the only option... find a hat that makes a statement!

Linnea said...

Agreed! Men in hats are better!

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