By Kathy Koches
When I was a kid back in the ‘50’s, and we were going somewhere special, like out to dinner or to visit my relatives, we all dressed up in our “Sunday Best.” For my mother, sister and me, this meant pretty dresses with petticoats, black or white patent leather Mary Janes, socks with ruffles and bows in our hair. Sometimes it even meant white gloves and a hat! The men and boys in the family wore a white shirt and a tie, often with a jacket or suit coat, and slicked back their hair.
I remember my father saying he must always have a clean, white, pressed shirt to wear with his black suit, which he called his “marryin’ and buryin’ suit.” My sister and I used to squirm and wiggle when we went to Sunday dinner at my Aunt’s house (the one who had no children and didn’t really like them) because we were made to sit with our hands folded in our laps, feet swinging from the high sofa and were told to “mind our manners.” My, how things have changed!
Today’s families rarely spend the weekends together, each one having their own activities or sports. They often don’t even eat together, and when they do it is a casual affair in jeans or sweats in front of the TV. Sometimes the first experience a teenage boy has with wearing a suit and tie is his senior prom! But is the old adage “clothes make the man” (or woman) really true? Was it ever true?
I am of two minds on this subject. I used to love dressing up, for parties, dances and even for work. I think that most women would agree that having a new outfit or hairdo is great for your self confidence and self-esteem. And I think people tend to act differently and “mind their manners” when they are all dressed up.
But then again, the clothes we wear can be a “mask” or “costume,” hiding the person we really are or want to be. Was that business suit, high-heel wearing professional woman the REAL me? Or was it a façade? What happened to the “free-spirited hippie” of the 60’s who used to wear tie-dye and Birkenstocks with flowers in her hair? Was that the real me?
As I got older and finally retired to Mexico, I realized that it was not the clothes that showed the world who I was; it was my attitude. Whether I am dressed up in my “Sunday Best” (which now often just means a clean pair of capris and a top for me and a guayabera shirt and shorts for my husband) or sitting around in sweats at the computer in my living room, what matters most is my attitude towards people, towards whatever project I might be working on, and my outlook on life.
It is an old cliché that a smile is your best accessory, but I still think it is true. You can make up your mind that, just for today, you are going to wear your “Sunday Best” attitude, smile and outlook on life. And you can do that again tomorrow and the next day and the next.
I was telling a friend just the other day that I often don’t even know what day it is, now that I am retired. But I have resolved that I will try, every day, to wear my “Sunday Best” outlook on life.
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