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Miss Manners: Grandmother shower feels like a gift grab

Fri., June 4, 2010, midnight

DEAR MISS MANNERS – I am so flabbergasted by this I had to write. Have you ever heard of a grandmother shower? And what do you think of it? (Although I’m pretty sure I know what your answer will be.)

My friend works in an office, and a co-worker’s daughter is having a baby. Another co-worker organized a “Grandmother Shower” to celebrate the birth and invited all the women in the office to attend. The party is being held at the office, and the invitation was issued via company e-mail.

Included in the invitation was a line noting that the expectant mother is registered at a particular store. Most, if not all, of the people in the office have never even met the expectant mother, and she will be in attendance at the shower collecting gifts.

I have never heard of such a thing, and to me it seems like a crass grab for gifts. Plus, I find it highly inappropriate to have it in the office, making people feel obligated to go.

P.S. This is not the first time this has happened, and there has also been a recent invitation to a great-grandmother shower.

GENTLE READER – Well, then, you have heard of such a thing.

And, indeed, so has Miss Manners of late. This is only one of several innovations in what is still called entertaining that have caught on in the last decade or so – types of celebrations and little routines within parties.

Strangely enough, they all have one thing in common: acquisitions. Some publish gift-registry choices, and others require cash donations, but the theme is always getting stuff from guests.

To minimize the outlay, guests are often asked to bring the refreshments or to pay for their own meals at restaurants, or, in the case of the invention of the virtual party, not to attend at all. Sadly, true socializing is being replaced by personal fundraising.

Baby showers are intended to be for friends who are actually having babies. A co-worker producing her daughter or granddaughter to collect goods from strangers is indeed a bald grab, devoid of friendship.

If people would resist being pressured into cooperating with such travesties of social life, these might disappear. Miss Manners recommends your merely wishing the expectant mother well on your way to your desk or out to lunch.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – My father is dying of cancer, and he would like his grandchildren to be his pallbearers. There are two girls as grandchildren and he would like for them to be included.

They say it should just be the boys. What is the proper etiquette for this?

GENTLE READER – Who is it who dares to deny your father his dying wish?

Not the girls themselves, Miss Manners trusts. Nor anyone with a true sense of etiquette, which has come around to recognizing that gender is no longer the paramount factor in relationships. Your father wants to be attended by his grandchildren, and no such anachronistic distinctions should prevent this.

If you would like a copy of Miss Manners’ newsletters, “On Cellular Phone Courtesy,” “The Etiquette of Proper Eating” or “Proper Wedding Planning,” please send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 (per newsletter) to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wicliffe, OH 44092-0167. Please state which newsletter(s) you wish to receive.


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