Every year, in the days leading up to Christmas, people do not fail to act like jerks. The irony is obviously lost on every person stampeding store aisles for a sale, busting down doors to snatch the last toy, and cutting off other drivers on the highway. So in this spirit of bad behavior, I figured a bit of finger-wagging was in order.

Perhaps the editors of Vanity Fair felt the same way when they published an excerpt from Henry Alford’s book on manners in the recent January issue. As a self-professed good girl I feel that etiquette is the glue maintaining our social fabric. Or at least, the glue that keeps us sane. The illustrations as well as the snippets are wonderful, golden nuggets of wisdom.

This my personal favorite:

Becoming the unwilling participant in an awful, redundant, and inane “Reply All” email chain has to be the worst!

Despite my penchant for manners, I’m also an optimist. So when confronted by bad behavior this time of year I like to recall Bill Murray’s monologue in one of my favorite holiday films, Scrooged. This random yet effusive and poignant speech was critical in forming my morals as a child. The secular, universal, and good-humored nature of Murray’s message still resonates, filling me with the hope that even on our worst days, when we are the jerkiest of jerks, we can inspire people to collectively burst into song.

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