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Tell Friends Good Times To Call

Judith Martin United Features Sy

Dear Miss Manners: A friend who knows I am an early riser phoned me to chat at 6:40 a.m. I must admit to being less than receptive to social conversation at this hour.

I always thought social calls were properly made between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Care to comment?

Gentle Reader: Not at this hour.

Of course, you don’t know which hour this is. And Miss Manners is afraid that although your friend knows that you are an early riser - and therefore considerately called you early - the fact that you are not an early converser is something you don’t seem to have mentioned.

The standard polite hours for social telephoning are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but not during working hours, which are roughly between 9 and 5:30, or between 12 to 2 because it might be lunch time, and not from 5:30 to 9 because it might be time for preparing or eating dinner.

Perhaps you begin to see why it is a good idea to let one’s friends know when you like to chat - and for the friends to inquire, when they do call, whether it, in fact, is a good time on that particular day.

Dear Miss Manners: I have always wanted to remember my sister-in-law’s little ones with a gift or a card with a generous check. But now that I have several children of my own and I’m juggling a job, a husband, a house and all their activities, I am swamped.

Coming home after a great day, I discovered a message on my answering machine from my sister-in-law, who wanted to let me know that I had “missed” her son’s birthday by a couple of days and that he was upset and looking for his gift from us. I was so ashamed that I rushed to mail a card and check.

Months and several more birthdays went by until I was late with her daughter’s birthday. Before I had time to correct my own delay, there was another message. By now I was beginning to feel outrage at her gall in reminding me to send her children gifts.

Of course, I responded by rushing out and buying a much more elaborate gift than I should have because I was so humiliated.

I already know I am a forgetful oaf. It’s just that her nagging calls have made me lose all the joy I had previously in exchanging gifts with these dear children.

Gentle Reader: There are two things Miss Manners doesn’t understand about this:

Why isn’t your sister-in-law trying to bring up her children instead of trying to bring you up? The way to deal with their understandable disappointment would be to coax them out of the natural idea that presents are owed to them and into the polite one that presents should always be considered a pleasant surprise, and why is her training working, so that you respond by increasing the presents?

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Judith Martin United Features Syndicate

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