decorum: from the Latin, right or proper; prescribed limits of appropriate social behavior within set situations.

I was chatting with a friend the other day about the concept of decorum. It’s funny- it’s always seemed like a pretty straightforward thing to me; just a facet of our everyday culture. But as we talked about it, I started to see it as a more complex, multi-faceted issue.

Some people see decorum as a critically important element of life. For them, it’s essential that things are done by the book in the most polite, well-mannered way possible. Handwritten thank you cards are to be mailed immediately after a party or an interview. Hosts are expected to turn down any offer to help from any guests.

Others throw caution to the wind, believing that proper decorum just gets in the way of fun, comfortable living. One of my friends pointed out that having a birthday cake at a party, though the “right” or “proper” thing to do, is silly if no one wants to eat it.

As per usual, I can both sides: I was so excited when I received a handwritten note from Linnie after attending her birthday party! It was such an unexpected surprise, which made it fun. But on the flip side, I loved when my sister and I visited our friend’s family’s house for Thanksgiving and were put right to work {just like at Hollymead!}. I loved that they weren’t so concerned about decorum that we had to sit at the table and be served like “proper” guests. I would much rather feel like family than a guest in someone’s home- even especially if it means pushing up my sleeves and washing dishes.

So I fall somewhere in the middle. I think it’s about striking a balance between thoughtful, meaningful gestures and feeling comfortable and at ease.

If a handwritten note will brighten someone’s day, why not send it? But if it’s solely out of obligation, I’m generally inclined to let it go.

Which side do you err on: heavy on the decorum or improper free-for-all like my friend (just kidding!)?


2 thoughts on “decorum

  1. Pingback: an out-of-town birthday shindig | Scintillating Simplicity

  2. Pingback: an out-of-town birthday shindig | Scintillating Simplicity

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