November 30, 2009 in Features

Miss Manners: Give thanks for family going home

Judith Martin

DEAR MISS MANNERS: If I can contain my anger, let me relate the Thanksgiving Day “celebration” at our home, with my large family.

Since there were more than a dozen people, I bought and paid for a complete, ready-prepared dinner package from the local supermart, a convenient and economical way to feed the family and eliminate lots of work. Everyone was told that I paid for the entire doing, but I got not so much as a polite “thank you” from anyone, only a passing “Oh, that’s nice.” Nothing more. My “dear” sister insisted on making some dishes of her own, and without asking or saying a word, threw a few of the paid-for items into the trash. (I must say that her cooking would proverbially sicken a goat. She’s terrible in the kitchen!)

At the beginning of the meal, since no one in the family drinks alcohol, I substituted sparkling fruit juice instead of wine or champagne, in respect of their tastes. My mother’s dear “friend” refused to join in the toast of celebration, said “I don’t like that stuff” and literally pushed it away across the table. While I had prepared a beautiful antipasto side dish, as well as an assortment of cheese, fruit, and crackers, the whole crowd never touched it, but instead spent the day snacking on goldfish crackers and chocolate milk! (These are all adult people, the youngest among them are my niece & nephew, both in their late 20s). And when I would suggest an activity, such as to watch a movie they might enjoy, or something similar, my suggestions were simply shrugged off with a lame alibi, such as “We don’t have time for that,” while whiling away the hours in idle, pointless conversation with my mother.

With the holiday over, they all packed up and left in the early morning, while I was asleep, without even bothering to wake me to say goodbye, or thank me for my efforts on their behalf. I shall never, ever, invite these insensitive, rude clods to my home again! I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so gravely insulted!

GENTLE READER: Wait – You forgot to say what you were thankful for.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been asked out by almost all the guys in my grade. I am in 7th grade. I have been called nasty names by declining to date. I say, “No. I’m sorry, but I’m not ready to date yet.”

It’s not because of religion. I don’t date because I believe middle school is too early.

Is there a polite way to decline?

GENTLE READER: Certainly – blame your parents. That is what they are there for.

If they are so strict as to refuse to forbid you to date, Miss Manners suggests changing your wording slightly. “I’m not allowed to date,” which covers not allowing yourself, and sounds less prissy than your refusal.

Readers may write to Miss Manners at MissManners@, or via postal mail at United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016.

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