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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners: Neat hostess, wild kids could meet in middle

Judith Martin

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I hope you will help me navigate a nasty family dispute. At family gatherings last summer, the hostess, my dear mother, relegated the party to the outside of the house, and decorated the floor from the backdoor to the bathroom with a path of towels, to lessen our impact on her home.

The temperatures soared and so did tempers.

Does a hostess have a responsibility to see to the comfort of her guests regardless of the messiness or rambunctiousness of her children and grandchildren? Does a guest ever have an occasion to request greater hospitality – and free access to the more comfortable interior of the home?

GENTLE READER: A hostess indeed has a responsibility to see to the comfort of her guests, although your qualification – that she do so irrespective of the behavior of the guests – gives Miss Manners pause. That and the towels.

Miss Manners wonders if it would be worth reviewing the behavior of the rambunctious progeny before admonishing your mother. A bit of moderation all around might prevent your family Christmas gathering from being held in the snow.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the best way to get callers to identify themselves?

I receive many calls from professional organizations that ask for me by first name and fail to identify the caller. I am constantly having to ask, “Who’s calling, please?” Many times this question is ignored, and they again ask is this “name”?

I really want to just hang up at this point or answer with a snarky remark; however, some of these calls are important to me.

GENTLE READER: There is no need to be shy about your legitimate request to know who is calling, but there is also no cause to be snarky. For those who refuse to identify themselves, Miss Manners recommends a firm, “I’m so sorry, but it was you who called me. To whom am I speaking?”

Questions can be sent to Miss Manners at her website,

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