DEAR MISS MANNERS: A family hosts a banquet dinner for a large group of people on a certain athletic team. The host family provides drinks, appetizers, a couple of main courses and desserts for all.
Some guests bring food to share, but, for a variety of reasons, those dishes are barely tasted or left untouched altogether. The hostess wants to send that food back with the givers, but the host insists on keeping it.
His point is, “How would you feel if no one ate what you brought/prepared for the party? It would be so hurtful, almost insulting! As good hosts, we have to show gratefulness, praise the food others contributed, and keep it after the party, even though we’ll dispose of it all right away.”
Without offending anyone, the hostess simply wants to avoid wasting the food, and returning the offering with the giver seems reasonable to her. What would Miss Manners do, please?
GENTLE READER: As someone used to writing about herself in the third person, Miss Manners recognizes its stabilizing effect. But she is not convinced it will help you convince your husband of the error of his ways. She applauds you both for considering the feelings of your guests first. But as you have noticed, bringing a meal to the home of someone who went to some trouble to set an inviting table is not likely to be taken as a compliment. Graciously send the unsolicited food home with the guests who brought it – before you find yourself washing their dishes and delivering back their food containers.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a distant relative whom I have met only once, as children too young to remember the occurrence. Family is important to me, so as an adult, I began to write to her. She writes a few times a year, and sends the occasional photo of her grandchildren.
We seem to have little, if anything at all, in common, other than our common ancestor. I have made the effort to remember her “current events,” grandchildren’s ages and interests, etc., since these things are important to her.
However, she has not reciprocated. This has been the situation for nearly 10 years now. I have decided that I don’t wish to continue our correspondence, as it seems much like talking to a brick wall – no response to my life events or follow-up conversation about hers.
What is the appropriate, and kindest, way to approach this? Shall I make a polite excuse about not wanting to stay in touch anymore, or is it perhaps better to simply stop, as one does in regard to exchanging holiday cards? I suspect she may feel as “relieved” to end our correspondence as I would be.
GENTLE READER: Breaking off future communications is a dramatic gesture usually reserved for people we want to shock into communicating more, or for pests who won’t stop communicating.
In neither case does it warm the hearer’s heart. Your relative, despite your efforts, remains merely distant. Miss Manners recommends a more neglectful approach.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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