Etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart has consistently named Charleston at the top of her unofficial list of the nation’s best mannered cities. What is it about Charleston, this southern gem, that warrants such an esteemed ranking? Nestled deep within the breeding and pedigree, Charleston holds precious its sense of hospitality and politeness. A soft, gentle way of behaving is done with such ease and grace that it turns every head in appreciation.
I went straight to the source for some insight into manners…my Mom, a 13th generation native of South Carolina.
My early memories of my mother involve mixing butter and flour for pound cake for special occasions, “practicing” using the confusing multiple pieces of silverware at the dining room table and hand writing thank you notes. As I got older, she taught me the nuances of allowing men to open doors for me, stand between me and the road on sidewalks, carry my bags and buy my cocktails. And always, dress to impress. Blue jeans belong only in the field I was told.
With manners, it’s all of the little things that count. One of those little things is gifting. I asked my mother to share with me lessons on grace and gifting passed down to her. Here’s what she told me:
“Gifts for any occasion would have been home made. Hostess gifts could be flowers from the “cutting” garden in spring and summer, camellias and jonquils at other times. Homemade pickles and preserves in decorative baskets were also a favorite. Crocheted borders to linens, hand-sewn monograms or tatting were also popular.
Thank you notes were always required and must be handwritten not printed. Writing notes in a proper Emily Post form was actually taught in school, as was the proper way to respond to RSVP’s.”
I am grateful for all my mother taught me about gracious living. Charleston Naturally has been inspired by these lessons of grace, fine living and hospitality.
What did your mother teach you about manners? We’d love to hear from you in our comment section.