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OK to correct poor table manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was brought up by a mother and grandmother who overvalued table manners as an indication of a person’s character and general worth as a human being. I pride myself on not having such foolish priorities, and yet …

I am the grandmother of three wonderful young women who all hold their knives and forks incorrectly when cutting their meat, and I’m afraid it drives me crazy.

Do you think I should just get over it, or can you suggest a way I might correct them without embarrassing them and/or myself?

GENTLE READER: Don’t you think you owe your mother and grandmother a tardy apology? Perhaps what they meant was not that people who eat haphazardly are valueless as human beings. Perhaps what they meant was only that such people are yucky to watch. As you have discovered.

However, Miss Manners notices that you also owe your forebears thanks for having provided you with a tactful way of instructing your granddaughters. If you give them an amusing picture of yourself in rebellion against what you thought of as shallow concerns, you will head off their saying the same. Then you can tell them that oddly enough, it did turn out to be true that people, even high-minded people, are put off by poor table manners.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I want to not invite six people to whom a “save the date” notification was sent. How can I do this in a tactful way?

GENTLE READER: Cancel the event.

You can then re-plan it for a different time with another guest list. But Miss Manners considers any other solution to be the equivalent of saying on the telephone, “Thanks for holding,” and then hanging up.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, dearmissmanners@; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.