Social Formulas Make You a Normal Person

Ooof, y’all. Just from the Part One introduction “The Ceremonies of Life”, I can tell we’re in for a bit of a rough ride here with Ms. Vanderbilt and 1950’s sensibilities.

She does begin with some lovely sentiments

“We observe small ceremonies when we say “good morning” and “good night”…”

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but that is indeed what that is. Delightful. Carry on, Amy.

(May I call you Amy? Shit, probably not. We were never formally introduced by anyone, after all. Hmm. Well, I’ll throw caution to wind here. We’re bound to grow close through this process.)

She goes on to list the various larger ceremonies a person can experience, beginning with circumcision for some. Well, damn, Amy V, look at you just putting that out there. I guess as long as there’s a ceremony surrounding it, it’s proper to discuss in polite society. Cool.

Death is referred to as “life’s finale” and I find that damned enchanting.

But the most touching and beautiful ceremony of them all? Marriage, of course!

“This is the long anticipated climax of girlhood -and boyhood, too- the doorway of true maturity, the farewell to parents as protectors, the acceptance of responsibility.”


I hope I don’t need to expand on everything that’s wrong with this statement.

Amy gains back some points further on, however. She makes it very clear that the cost of the wedding is absolutely not the important thing.

“Whether the bride wears a lovely bridal gown or a simple cotton frock…The elaborateness or simplicity of the wedding is of no real consequence.”


“…and that it take place -preferably under some religious auspices- in the bride’s place of worship or in her home.”


She wraps it all up by proclaiming that ceremony is a sort of protection when emotions are strongly involved. I can see that. While oddly saying that if we ignore ceremony

“…we are not normal, warm human beings…”

she also feels if we never relax the rules, always “standing on ceremony,” we would be much too rigid. We must figure out which rules are good for us to breach for the moment, and which we must never if we are to live harmonious lives.

An interesting thought. I appreciate that she recognizes there must be some leeway, right off the bat.

I will be attending a “climax of girlhood” this weekend. However, it is a ceremony for two grown-ass women. So I’m not entirely sure how well the Complete Book will carry over.

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