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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners: Graduation parties not contingent on the grad’s plans

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter will be graduating from high school in June. She has chosen to enter a four-year apprenticeship program for a union trade.

She would like to have a graduation party, and we would like to host one for her. But a friend questioned whether we should be having such a party since she won’t be attending college, and it might be tacky for my daughter to accept monetary gifts from guests since she won’t be using the money at college.

The friend stated that I might want to put something on the invitation about my daughter not attending college. I do not agree with her thinking. I want to have a celebration for her accomplishments throughout high school, and to also commend her on her choice to enter into an apprenticeship program. We are not having the party for the monetary gifts; we are having the party for our relatives and friends to celebrate our daughter’s accomplishments.

Please help me in preparing a response to naysayers who do not support our choice to have a party!!!!

GENTLE READER: Your friend’s logic is admirably inflexible, if entirely appalling: that the purpose of the party is to raise money from your near-and-dear; that your daughter will be earning, not spending, money; and that therefore, the party cannot go forward.

Miss Manners is surprised that your friend did not anticipate the possibility of expenses during the apprenticeship, but perhaps she was also sneering at your daughter’s plans. The answer to such objections is the one you gave – the party is a celebration, not a fundraiser – though Miss Manners wonders how necessary (or possible) it is to convince such a friend.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been asked for a good way to remind our senior volunteers of their commitments to work a couple of hours a week at the public library bookshelf, where we sell used books and donate the money back to the library. I have just assumed the bookshelf management job, and have never had responsibility over volunteer workers.

GENTLE READER: Managing volunteers requires both firmness and tact. Firmness, in treating the duties enough like a normal job that volunteers comply. And tact, in that you must be more patient and understanding of partial or noncompliance – and more effusive in expressing gratitude for work done – than a boss who is signing paychecks.

In the case you describe, Miss Manners recommends something as simple and direct as a sign-up sheet, perhaps followed by an automatic reminder.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m a man in my mid-20s who has started a much-overdue habit of writing physical thank-you notes and personal letters, rather than emails or text messages.

I’m a bit self-conscious about my sloppy penmanship. If I type up personal, heartfelt words on good stationery and sign my own name by hand, will it still be considered appropriate as I continue to practice my penmanship?

GENTLE READER: Handwritten notes are appreciated for the effort they demonstrate – and too often for their quaint rarity – not for their legibility. Miss Manners suggests there is therefore no reason to delay handwriting the whole letter, particularly as it will simultaneously provide the needed practice.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,

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