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Miss Manners: Humble reader sees the candlelight

Judith Martin

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I seem to remember, from way back, that eating by candlelight was restricted to evening dining and not “proper” during daylight hours.

Is this the current practice? With daylight saving time, it is not truly dark until well after 8 p.m., so even dinnertime could be affected.

There are so many lovely candleholders and countless shades of candles to complement a centerpiece, I would hope that luncheon (and early dinner hour) candlelight is now acceptable.

GENTLE READER: You weren’t around when these rules were formed, were you?

Before gaslight and electricity (my, what will they think of next?), candles were the source of light during darkness, and, incidentally, a major household expense. Hence, lighting candles during daylight was classified as showing off.

But you asked about current practice, nowadays, when even Miss Manners uses electricity. (She finds it a great improvement when conducting her daily search for her glasses.)

Alas, the rule is still on the books. The only update was made to ban showing off the candlesticks, instead of the candles.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I had always planned to take another 10-day cruise to Bermuda on our 10th anniversary. Due to the negative economic conditions around us, as well as our near-future financial stability, we will not be able to do this.

I thought of another idea but have conflicting feedback from others. I was told that it is inappropriate to host your own anniversary party and that “your” children usually do this. Well, we have no children, nor can we.

My thought was that the majority of our age group has not stayed married to the same person for more than 10 years. This makes this event even more important to me and thought it was a great idea to throw a party inviting our friends and family to our home for an afternoon of fun to celebrate a milestone that is so important to us.

Everyone has been so stressed and this is a way to bring happiness to us, as well as people close to us. I was going to ask family to bring a prepared dish and we would supply the rest. I want to have toasts for those who have passed milestones such as 10, 15, 20 years of marriage.

GENTLE READER: Congratulations. Sure, throw a party, although if you are truly hosting, you don’t ask guests to bring food. You might also consider not asking people who tell you that you cannot celebrate unless you have children and, furthermore, children under 10 who know how to throw parties.

Reciprocal toasting of your friends is a gracious idea. Maybe. What worries Miss Manners is that you seem to characterize marriage as a sport and want to laud the champions. Is there no one among your prospective guests who had a bad marriage, or no marriage? Should they just stand around while you call out the winning statistics?

If there is a couple with an anniversary date close to yours, or someone with a birthday around then, you could single such people out with a toast. Otherwise, it would be more graceful to offer a blanket toast to all your guests, saying how lucky you are to have good friends, wishing them happiness.

Readers may write to Miss Manners at MissManners@, or via postal mail at United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016.
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