Thursday, April 5, 2012
In ballet class, the students are required to call their teacher "Miss" and then her first name. This shows classical respect. This was also common manners when I was a child. A Friend who visited was called "Miss Annie."
If it was a very close family friend, one who was beloved, she was given the title of "Aunt." I had a few "Aunts" who seemed like they were part of our family. I would not have ever dreamed of calling them by their first names without using the title "Aunt." (My own children have a dearly loved "Uncle" who is my husband's closest friend.)
We had visitors from the south in summer. The small children would call me "Ma'am" even though I was their cousin. It was because I was their elder. Have you ever heard a sweet child with a southern accent call an eleven year old, "Ma'am"? It is precious! The children would never say a simple "no" or "yes" without a "Ma'am" or "Sir" when speaking to the older generation. It was common courtesy. (The adults responded the same way, as an example, by saying "Ma'am" and "Sir" as well.)
In those days, the world was family - centered and adult - centered. Children were cherished, but were taught to give up a seat for an older person. When company came, they would gladly give up their bedroom for the guest. The children would sleep on "pallets," or blankets, on the living room floor. They were happy with this arrangement and knew no other way. Children looked forward to the privilege of being grown and looked forward to growing up and getting to be an honored adult.
Children were also taught to "go play" during adult conversation. Parents and visitors would talk quietly about the news of the day, or some trial in the family, so as not to upset the innocence of children. This was part of respect and manners in the home. Children did not live in the adult world. They were honored and protected as children.
One of the greatest blessings in life was to earn the title of "Mrs." Girls were called "Miss" until they married. I remember being called "Miss Sharon" growing up and I loved it. There was some dignity and elegance to the title of "Miss," just like in ballet class. If I was helping in Sunday School, the little students called me "Miss," or "Ma'am."
But when I became "Mrs. White" I was honored and delighted. Suddenly I had protection, in a sense. I had a covering and a very special reason to act accordingly. I had a husband who expected me to be a lady, and an honor to his name. Women used to proudly address themselves as "Mrs." . . . When out in the stores, they would say hello to each other by showing respect to the family and husband by saying, "Hello Mrs. Smith! How are you today?" It brought out the grace and dignity in all. (Of course, in close, personal visits, first names were used.)
When titles are used, it brings out gallantry in gentlemen and refinement in other women. In the old days, no one scoffed at titles like they do today. This is part of the reason we have an extremely casual self-centered society. No one wants to give place to respect and honor.
In the old days, Ladies dressed like ladies. They were in skirts and dresses, not sweatshirts and sweatpants. Women and Children dressed up to go to the store, the church or out visiting. We presented ourselves in our best because this brought out the best in others. Ladies also gave their best to their families, at home, by dressing nicely. They did not wear ratty, casual clothes. They would wear a comfortable, but pretty, house dress with an apron over it. This meant they cared about how they looked and wanted to please their families by looking sweet and pleasant. They were also ready to greet unexpected guests. This does not mean they were in their Sunday Best, but they looked nice and were not embarrassed when someone came by. This carried into their homes.
When we use Titles and Have Respect and know the place and the value of Manners, we not only look nice, but our homes look nice. We also treat others in a more civil, kind way. We respect the family, the institution of marriage and the love of home.
One of my greatest wishes is that they would do away with the term "Ms." because it brings confusion. Originally, we know that Miss means unmarried and Mrs. means married. Why then the term of "Ms."? I would also love if unisex clothing went out of fashion. I would love if our town and our state and our county realized the potential for traditional royalty and started to act accordingly. Truly this would trickle down to our children and succeeding generations and bring more pride and love for values and manners.
Recently I saw a picture of a modern family. It was a Husband and Wife with all their children. They were dressed up and smiling. Even though they looked lovely, I could sense a casualness to them. I contrasted this with an early 1900's historic photograph (in black and white) of my grandfather when he was a small boy. His siblings and parents were also in the picture. The dignity and pride came through in their stature and poise. Their clothing was amazing, even though they were far from rich. This was the traditional family of which I speak. This is where titles and manners and customs of the old days brings out the richness of our heritage.
If only more ladies were proud of being called "Aunt" or "Miss" and thought it endearing. If only neighbors and friends were commonly called, with a sweet smile, "Mrs." If only children were taught to give up their seat for their elders and learned to honor them with titles. While the adults, likewise, protected their innocence and taught them by example. Maybe we could recapture the joy of family and understand that royalty and dignity is possible, once again, in this great nation.
The Way of the Old Days - Building our Homes with Little Money.
A Precious Sermon - The Godly Home, Marriage and Family.
What do you Think? - Do We Really Care About our Homes?
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