May 9, 2011 in Features

Miss Manners: Mom should walk daughter down the aisle

Judith Martin United Feature Syndicate
 

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter is getting married next year and is having a dilemma as to who should walk her down the aisle. Her father and I were divorced when she was 2. He has been involved in her life but not as much as she would have liked. Her stepfather has been around since she was 5.

She cannot figure out which one to choose without hurting the other’s feelings. She thinks both escorting her would be too much.

Help! Do you have several solutions or suggestions?

GENTLE READER: One: You.

Miss Manners would not have had trouble with the two-father solution, as avoiding hurt feelings is a worthy goal when planning a wedding. But does it not seem odd to you that a male must give her away, and not the parent who has had her for her entire life?

Indeed, traditionally, giving away a bride was not an exclusively male role. Widows, for example, gave their daughters away. In this case, both fathers will be able to beam equally at the sight of you giving away the daughter you consistently reared.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: This weekend, when my family hosted a dinner party for friends and family, I announced that dinner would be served in five minutes to give guests an opportunity to wash up.

As food was being served, I stood at the side bar to offer beverages (both white and red wine, iced tea, raspberry lemonade and iced water). It was at this time that a guest requested that I prepare hot tea so that she could have it with her meal.

My children stated later that shock and displeasure were apparent on my face at having to leave the table to boil water and prepare a hot beverage, when one was not offered. I also thought that if this guest knew she wanted a hot beverage with her meal, she could have asked me to make one at my announcement of five minutes.

We have had this woman over for dinner frequently, and she has never requested hot tea with her meal before, or I would have had hot water prepared. Typically, I serve hot tea and coffee after the meal with dessert (which she knows). I was not happy to leave my other guests at the table and have my meal get cold. What do you think?

GENTLE READER: Frankly, the first thought Miss Manners had was why one of those children who noticed your distress didn’t jump up and say, “I’ll put the water on, Mother, you sit down.”

The second was why you didn’t ask one of them to do so – or even ask the guest, as she seems to be an intimate of the house.

But let us assume that you felt that you must oblige your guest yourself. It is indeed your duty to tend to your guests, even unreasonable ones if you can reasonably do so.

However, you had other guests to consider. To keep them waiting while their food cools – as Miss Manners trusts that polite guests never begin eating until the hostess does – would be rude. If you felt that you could not delegate the job of putting water on to boil, you could have said sweetly, “As soon as I get a chance” as you sat down to the meal.

Visit Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.


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