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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners: ’Tis the season to be generous

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in a quandary about giving a Christmas present to my cleaning lady. I had to cut her hours back from every other week to once a month.

At Christmas I always gave her a small present and a check for one week’s work. What do I give her now – the same amount as before? I don’t want to lose her, as I really like her.

GENTLE READER: In what sense do you like her? Before social media perverted that word, it implied a certain fondness that, when applied to actual living beings, indicated a modicum of empathy.

In that case, you might consider that however much financial problems of yours may have led you to cut back her hours, her financial problems must be worse.

Or perhaps you mean only that you like the way she cleans your house.

In either case, Miss Manners recommends generosity. This is a rare opportunity to use a selfish motivation to do a selfless act.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter thinks I need to attend her future relatives’ family Christmas party. I do not feel I belong there, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want to go. I am not marrying them; she is marrying into the family.

After trying to explain this to her, her response was, “I would like you to do this for me.” I said I still feel the same.

GENTLE READER: Like it or not, marriage does join two families. If there are children, you will have blood relatives in common.

However, Miss Manners gathers that you take a rather cool view of family claims. Your own daughter’s plea that you do this for her sake seems to have moved you no more than her wish to include you in her new life. Ultimately, this will probably be sadder for you than for her.

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