We are not very thoughtful, we women—if we were, there would be a good deal more pleasure falling into the lives of those about us. If those who have autos filled up their cars every time they went out, instead of speeding over the smooth roads in solitary state, there would be less envy and fewer heartburns. If, at every family table spread on holidays, one or more less fortunate outsider were gathered, there would be less loneliness on such days.
It is only courteous to assure a hostess of the pleasure she has given, but the custom is not generally observed. It does not require much effort to say a few words over the telephone wires or through the mail, so it must be lack of thought that leaves a woman to wonder if her little party was a success. It is sheer rudeness to neglect to acknowledge a gift, yet friendships of long standing have been shattered by such oversight.
As for calls, after dinners and parties of the formal order, they are entirely overlooked by women whose manners are in sad need of repairs. The elaborate code of etiquette which obtained in the days of our grandmothers, has suffered from the demands made upon our time by modern life. Elimination has pared it down to the bone, but there is a wholesome little mass of essentials left. I do not see how we can spare any more from it, until we get too hardened to care for the little niceties of living.
We can do without courtesy, of course, but are we willing to go that far backward to barbarism? When it becomes necessary to put one’s address on the envelope we send out with a letter, to make sure of its proper delivery, we need to hold serious communion with ourselves and find out how far we are for the prevailing habit of passing over correspondence duties.
A newspaper notice sent out by the press agent of a well-known theatrical star, feminine, said that she had the English habit of writing letters of all kinds known to gentlewomen. Presumably gentlewomen in this country are so rare as to make a good paragraph in an advertising campaign.
Letter-writing has degenerated, of course, but there has not been found any better way to convey sympathy or thanks, to give clear or necessary information. We are getting self-absorbed, or something akin to it, and are neglecting to give pleasure which costs scarcely more than the effort of speech or a movement of the hand.
A man whom I met yesterday, has a wife who will never recover from the effects of an accident, but she has the delicacy to avoid giving discomfort to those about her. To my inquiry concerning her present condition, he made this reply: “She seems pretty well, for her, but you can never tell anything by what she says. She is the worst possible liar about herself.’’
All hail to such a liar! This wise woman knows that her husband is nervous and high strung, and sometimes overworked, and that her doting mother is very feeble. She does what she considers the only kind thing—makes light of her own troubles and gives them ease of mind. This is true thoughtfulness. There are too many of the other kind to allow us to be too severe on such harmless deceit. The aged certainly are entitled to consideration, and a true wife does not wish to hamper her husband in his struggle for a living; yet, I fancy I might he able to find homes where neither consideration nor thoughtfulness reign. — Betty Bradeen, Sacramento Union, 1908
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