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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 8/2

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am not a person of stature nor wealth. My home is modest in size, and it does not have a place to sit and eat other than the kitchen table. However, I do have space outdoors that is quite comfortable with tables and chairs.

I inherited silver and china (from 1886) that nobody else in the family wanted, and I would like to use it rather than have it sit in a box. It seems like the china and silver are begging to come out!

My desire is to reintroduce the bygone stylish ladies’ luncheon into my life and the life of ladies in the neighborhood, should they be gracious enough to accept my invitations. How does one do that when blessed with inherited silver and china, but not much else?

I do enjoy hosting casual backyard barbecues, but I would like an excuse to bring out the silver and china sometimes. In my desire to host an event where the food is served on something other than paper plates, I don’t want to come across as trying to belong to a social status that I do not.

If I organized a ladies’ luncheon, would I come across as a pathetic, mature woman wanting to play tea party?

Where do I start? Is it even possible? Should I accept my nonglamorous lot in life for what it is, keeping my china and silver in boxes with hopes that one of my children will be able to use it someday? Should I just use it for everyday life?

GENTLE READER: Yes, use it every day. This is equipment for eating, not stage props for a life you don’t yet lead.

Miss Manners wants you to get used to enjoying your inheritance instead of putting it away for future generations who may or may not appreciate it. (Usually that skips a generation, but you can’t count on it.)

There is no reason not to use these things at your barbecue parties, where sturdier implements than plastic and paper should be appreciated. There is also no reason not to give somewhat more formal ladies’ luncheons, as long as you think your guests will enjoy that – and you have rid yourself of the self-consciousness of thinking that you are showing off.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a protocol for when you invite a person to various occasions three times, and the guest always says yes, but does not attend?

Do you stop inviting the person out of courtesy? After three occasions, if the person always declines, do you not bother inviting them anymore?

GENTLE READER: Yes, stop issuing invitations to this person.

To issue a fourth invitation to someone who has declined three previous ones is considered social persecution. Anyone who would love to see you but is madly busy or popular will then presumably issue an invitation to you.

Perhaps accepting and then not appearing is not exactly persecution, but it is something like that for the poor host.

Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website

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