DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have learned about another way for couples to get cash instead of gifts for their wedding without coming out and crassly asking for it.
We were invited to a wedding, and I was talking to my sister about what to choose from the gift registry. She noticed that the couple had requested two slow cookers, and I added that I saw they had registered for three identical wool blankets.
I ordered an item, but when I tried to have it sent to my house instead of to the couple, I found the item could be sent only to the address set up for the couple. I contacted the store and was told they didn’t have that feature (to send it to a different address), but the person I was communicating with said he would “bring it up at the next meeting.”
Later I talked to the bride-to-be, and she told me that they don’t actually get the gifts; they get the value of the gifts put into their account, and they can spend it however they want: “We don’t want to get anything we don’t want.”
GENTLE READER: Oh, a laundering scheme. There seems to be no shortage of commercial enterprises to help bridal couples shake down their wedding guests.
This one is particularly insulting as it tries to fool those guests into thinking they are exercising even the minimal amount of choice in how they spend their money by selecting something that the couple have fraudulently said they wanted.
Miss Manners is afraid that this sort of thing will stop only when people refuse to go along with the demands of their supposed hosts, whether these demands are made in the form of shopping lists, aka gift registries, or blatant or devious demands for money.
Unfortunately, many people have resigned themselves to this as a sort of admission price for attending weddings. Why they want to attend the weddings of people who are practicing extortion on them, Miss Manners cannot imagine.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should I handle “compliments” that are really an insult to the person delivering the compliment?
I have friends who frequently say things like, “It’s great to see you walking every morning with your kids. I really have no excuse for being so lazy in the mornings,” or “You look so healthy! I really need to start eating better.”
I never know how to respond to these comments. I work hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to help combat depression that I have struggled with for years. I certainly don’t spend any time worrying about my friends’ exercise plans or eating habits.
What is a gracious way to accept the compliment without accepting the criticism?
GENTLE READER: You are hardly responsible for their self-flagellation. There are those who are unable to regard other people, even with admiration, without making comparisons to themselves.
So Miss Manners allows you to consider that while the compliment was directed toward you and may be answered with a simple “thank you,” the criticism – with which you can hardly argue – may be ignored as a note-to-self.
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