DEAR MISS MANNERS: For years, my husband and I entertained guests for holidays. Now that we are in our 70s, we decided to keep quiet and not send any written invites nor make calls and wait to see if we get invited.
The telephone company assured us the phone was in working order, but it never rang.
We stayed home at Thanksgiving and shared laughs about all the past nice times we had, and how thoughtless people have become. It seems that if we don’t send Christmas cards first, we won’t get any in return.
What is going on with these social changes in America?
GENTLE READER: The world is changing all the time, in many ways, and always has been. But whenever social change is mentioned to Miss Manners, it is with one of only two conclusions: That nobody has any manners anymore, or that nobody needs to have manners anymore.
Neither is true. Some things have changed for the better – society no longer tolerates the open expression of bigotry – and others, such as open expression of greed, for the worse.
Similarly, adaptations because of changes in the way we live may be done well or badly.
Therefore, Miss Manners is not convinced that your strategy of waiting for people to seek you out has revealed that the world has turned callous.
Many people simply do not entertain, even those who used to do so. Some people tend to react to social opportunities, rather than to initiate them.
Technology has changed correspondence dramatically, in that the regular use of cards, written invitations and even the telephone can no longer be assumed.
Now, where does the relentlessly optimistic Miss Manners find an upside to all this? You may safely assume that she shares your yearning for home entertaining, reciprocating invitations, staying in touch and handwritten correspondence.
But so do your socially delinquent friends. Those of us who provide such things now find ourselves all the more valued. Miss Manners hopes we will serve as models for a renaissance of satisfying and mutual social life.
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