Wednesday, 19 December 2012
Questions of style
Like others I have been writing Christmas cards, and have been pondering the order of the sender and the recipients' names.
Starting with the sender, nowadays it is just Ian and I sending cards so whose name comes first? Alphabetical, age, the person writing the card? My solution is to put the person first who has the closest connexion with the person to whom the card is sent. So, when sending a card to Ian's brother, obviously I put Ian first, also would put his brother's name before his wife's inside the card. So, a card to my sister, same rule, she is named first inside the card and I sign my name first.
On the envelope for married couples it is just Mr and Mrs, unless I know the addressee is a Quaker, or follows Quaker practice of not using titles. Fair enough, then there are the couples with different surnames, here I use the closest link rule again.
Another quirk I have is where there are children named on a card I don't keep always to a chronological order but may put the youngest first for a change. No personal experience here, I was the elder so my name
came before my sister's. In my twenties I sent out Christmas cards in my own name when still living in the parental home, cards sent to my parents included me and I rarely received cards in my own right. My sister had married so this didn't apply to her, nowadays we are still have receiving a few cards with our children's names on them. Both thirty somethings have left home.
It is a small aspect of manners I suppose, one of my father's ways of judging our boyfriends when we were younger. There was much criticism of one young man who didn't see my sister to the door, or at least put her in and pay for a taxi; another was found wanting because he didn't walk on the outside of the pavement. I remember one who ensured he grabbed the last comfortable chair so my mother would have had to sit on the low woven stool had not some one else given their seat to her. In retrospect, many of these young men may not have known the rather arcane rules so may not have been aware of breaking them.
However, even today I worry about the niceties of social encounters, should I shake hands in the European style, surely preferable to the air kissing and insincere mwahs. I think I may go and consult one of our 1930s books on household management and as we live in a 1930s house follow that decade's practice. Such larks!