It’s interesting to really sit down and think about the differences in people, and how those differences can be attributed directly to upbringing. I don’t normally discuss politics with friends, unless I know we lean in the same direction. I just don’t do political debates. Still, it was interesting to see how someone who grew up below the poverty line in the inner city can reach down to their roots to form a political opinion the same way a person who was raised without having to worry where their next meal was coming from.
Anyway, I have already gotten way off the topic of upbringing. This post truly has nothing to do with politics. I was joking with a coworker recently about wedding preparations and the things that are (or aren’t) considered socially acceptable according to Emily Post. Now let me tell you, I have only ever heard of Miss Post in name only. I am embarrassed to say that I have never taken the time to learn the how to set a table properly, or the etiquette for turning down an invitation. I am not using my upbringing as an excuse, but there are certain things you just don’t learn growing up in the inner city. My mother was great at teaching us manners. We knew better than to call an adult by the first name. Pleases and thank yous were frequent visitors in our conversations. She made sure we grew up to be grateful human beings. But when you are raised in a home where there is no fine china or fancy set of silverware, is it really necessary to learn the importance of place settings?
My husband’s father was old school when it came to his upbringing. There’s nothing at all wrong with that. He learned how to properly hold a fork, how to tie a tie, and where how far past the wrist the hem of the sleeve on a good sports jacket should fall. He instills those practices in our children, which I am thankful for because I am learning a lot along the way. I can now eat soup properly in a restaurant without embarrassing myself. You may laugh, but this was a serious issue for me. I almost never ordered soup out of fear of wearing it home.
Since I’ve become an adult, I have found myself in situations where lessons from Emily Post would have come in very handy. I remember giving a gift to a friend at a bridal shower, and receiving a handwritten Thank You card a few days later. I thought it was the most delightful idea, and vowed to put it into practice. Had I schooled myself in the ways of Miss Post, I would have known that failure to send a Thank You note is indicative of the most dreadful of upbringings. I would like to take this moment to apologize to those of you who have given me gifts in the past without receiving a Thank You note in return, or those of you whom I have invited to social gatherings by way of email.
I went to Amazon.com this morning and searched for books on etiquette as a step in my Outline For Personal Improvement. I jest, no such outline has been created. Anyway, guess what I found for my Kindle? And for free, no less? You’ve got it. The original book of etiquette written by Emily Post. I downloaded it right away and promise to read it over and over until the rules of acceptable behavior are drilled into my head. I heard someone say once that amazing things rarely happen within the confines of your comfort zone. Here I am, taking a step out of mine. Don’t worry, you will still get plenty of Tom Foolery from me. But I can assure you, I will know which fork to eat salad with.