DEAR MISS MANNERS: We received a wedding invitation from my niece’s son addressed “to whom it may concern.”
We met him only once, several years ago, and have never heard from him. We have not heard from his mother, my niece, in about two years. We will not be attending the wedding, as they live in California and we live in Ohio.
Would a card sent with our regrets and best wishes be appropriate to send, without a gift?
GENTLE READER: “To whom it may concern”?
You have no idea how sorely Miss Manners is tempted to say it is no concern of yours. She humbly acknowledges that your solution is the gracious one.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I very much enjoy hosting small dinner parties in our home. Good company is, of course, the reason for these get-togethers, but I also really enjoy making a lovely and creative meal and setting a beautiful table for the people I care about.
I am known as a very good cook and baker, and I am as certain as one can be that it is not false flattery, based both on how quickly invitations are accepted and how often I am begged to cater important events in friends’ lives.
We are frequently asked to join friends at restaurants, but hospitality is never reciprocated. I was told by a frequent guest that she and others in our group feel so guilty about not offering us hospitality, but it is just too intimidating to try to cook for me, after the elegant meals I have been providing for so long.
I was shocked, and felt absolutely terrible! Where on earth did they get the idea that this was a competition? Or that hot dogs on paper plates would not be lovely, combined with good company and lively conversation?
I cook for the love of cooking, and above all for the love of my friends and family! How do I make this right?
GENTLE READER: If they are inviting you to restaurants as their guests, they are reciprocating. But they are not going to realize how offensive their explanation is unless you tell them. They actually think that they are offering you a compliment.
As they seem to be good friends, you should be able to say gently, “You know, it’s not a competition. I enjoy many styles of food, and would be honored to be invited to your house.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: It seems I can hardly open my mouth these days before the person I am talking with says “Got it!” or words to that effect.
I am careful about not telling long and/or boring stories, and I don’t think I drag out my speech, but very often I am being cut short. Is communication only about getting quickly to the point?
I am tired of saying, “Please let me finish.”
GENTLE READER: Then don’t. In fact, don’t say anything.
Miss Manners has found that the best way to deal with people who anticipate what one is going to say is to let them say it and then to refrain from speaking at all, as they seem to want to handle both sides of the conversation. Eventually, they do notice the silence.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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