DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in trouble. I made a mistake. I was deeply surprised to see that a colleague served Thanksgiving dinner to her guests using aluminum pans, paper plates, paper napkins and plastic flatware. I posted a reaction to the photos of her dinner.
She is now angry and calls me a hater. This has stuck in her craw, because she keeps texting me. I suggested to her, and to others, that the holidays should be the time when we clear out china closets and use our very best china, stemware, flatware, etc. to serve our guests.
I admit I am biased. Growing up, my mother used the best of everything she had for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. I follow her standard. It is a matter of hospitality, and demonstrates to your family and friends that you went over and above the usual because they are special.
Apparently, my mother’s standards are no more. I know I was wrong to criticize. Should I apologize?
GENTLE READER: Is that all your mother taught you about the meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas? “Use the good china”?
Yes, you must apologize, publicly and profusely, for having publicly humiliated someone who showed hospitality. Even so, Miss Manners doubts that she, or anyone who saw your posting, will ever invite you again.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: After cutting and eating a steak, is it proper to pick up the bone and glean the rest of the meat? The meat next to the bone is really good.
GENTLE READER: And, like many of life’s sensual treats, is best enjoyed in privacy.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve noticed that many people have taken to declining invitations with: “I’ll take a pass.” Personally, I find this a bit off-putting. (These are sincere invitations; we’re not talking about inviting someone to help out with a move or attend a first-grader’s performance.)
When did it become acceptable to give this response, as opposed to, “I’m sorry, but I’ve got a previous engagement” or even “Thank you, but it’s not my cup of tea”?
I’m sure Miss Manners doesn’t approve of passive-aggressive behavior. But when confronted with the response “I’ll take a pass,” should I presume that it is I who first offended the party with the invitation?
Or am I being too sensitive? Considering today’s harried environment, should I feel thankful that the invitee took the time to respond at all?
GENTLE READER: Perhaps you are being too insensitive. To treat the offer of hospitality as if it were a commercial proposition is insulting – yesterday, today and tomorrow. Miss Manners suggests upgrading your guest list rather than lowering your expectations.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was taught to always remove my hat when entering someone’s house, a restaurant or the like. I am always surprised, if not annoyed, when I see grown men sitting in a nice restaurant with their baseball caps on, sometimes even backwards. Is the custom of removing one’s hat still valid, or has it fallen by the wayside?
GENTLE READER: It is still valid. However, some people’s manners have fallen by the wayside.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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