DEAR MISS MANNERS: I will be getting married later this year (assuming it’s safe to do so, given COVID). I have some relatives in my grandparents’ home country I would love to see. We rarely see each other, and there is a language barrier, but we have warm feelings and shared history.
However, they are rural farmers, and, while they do well for the area, they are not wealthy by American standards. For perspective, while we’ve happily been able to send them small sums over the years as gifts, a single plane ticket would cost 10 times what we’ve ever given. So subsidizing their attendance isn’t possible.
I would love to somehow tell them that this is an occasion I wish they could take part in as family. Is there any version of, “You’d be welcome if it were possible, but I know it’s not, so please don’t feel any pressure. This is merely symbolic” that could be included with an invitation?
I don’t want to embarrass them by putting them in a position where they feel obligated to spend money they don’t have, nor do I want to hurt their pride by referring to their financial situation (even though there’s no shame in it at all).
They are not from a culture where receiving an invitation automatically necessitates a gift, so that is not a concern. I truly just wish they could be there and want to tell them so without burdening them. Is there a convention for such a thing?
GENTLE READER: Is there a standard form, you ask, for: You would like them to come, but you don’t want to burden them financially; you can’t help with the cost, and they should not feel bad – either about their financial situation or about not attending; you want them to feel included, but also to understand that you will not be hurt if they can’t attend?
Did Miss Manners miss anything? Ah, yes: You don’t speak the same language.
She does not mean to make light of your quandary but only to point out that you are asking too much of a simple convention. If a conversation is not possible, send an invitation. Trust the relatives from the old country to figure out the rest.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband is driving me crazy. In the last couple of years, he has developed a habit of talking with his mouth full at the dinner table.
Aside from it being repulsive and annoying, we have two teenaged children, and I’m worried they will think this is acceptable behavior. But I don’t know how to correct him since he’s an adult, not my child.
I can barely stomach another meal with him. What can I do?
GENTLE READER: Speak with him about it in private. Miss Manners appreciates your concern that the children will copy his behavior, but points out that if they do, you can correct them in the moment. They will defend themselves by pointing fingers at your husband, at which point you can agree that good manners apply to everyone in the family, and that “Your father and I will try to do better.”
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.
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