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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners 4/11

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

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My neighbor insists that when mailing a card, it should be placed with the front facing the front of the envelope.

Whenever she receives cards during the holidays or on her birthday, the first thing she does is to comment on whether it was “correctly positioned” or not.

I know of no such picayune dictates regarding card placement in envelopes and feel that my neighbor is being petty. Will Miss Manners please clarify this not-so-pressing issue on which I’ve dwelled far too long?

GENTLE READER: The mystery is why people who rudely criticize others’ manners are so often ignorant of the rules. Unsolicited instruction is not a picayune matter, because it taints etiquette by representing it as rudeness.

Aside from the greater transgression of belittling people in the act of wishing her well, your neighbor is just wrong. Because envelopes are opened from the back, where the flap is, the contents should face that way.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should I react to a friend and fellow church member who sent an email asking for the business of selling my father’s house – just one month after his passing?

The email asked nothing about how I am, or how the family is doing, though she did bring us flowers two weeks ago.

GENTLE READER: So your friend did express sympathy. Miss Manners trusts that you have already thanked her for that. Yes? Because that is the only reaction you owe her.

Nowadays, emails announcing “Someone wants to buy your house” are sent indiscriminately, even to people who don’t own houses. That your sympathetic friend misjudged when you will be emotionally ready to face the problem of what to do with your father’s house does not seem as intrusive.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My fiance and I are slowly planning a wedding to take place next year. We are very lucky to have large families and many friends.

We also have a nice home full of inherited silverware and dishes and everything else that we could need or want. We find wedding registries tacky and have no need or desire for cash gifts or a honeymoon fund.

Is there any way to express to our guests that we will not be registering for gifts and not make it sound like a cash grab? All we want is for those we love to come and enjoy our special day with us.

It seems that in this case, it’s lose-lose: With a gift registry, you are asking for gifts, but without one, it seems like you are asking for cash. We don’t want to communicate either of those things to our guests.

GENTLE READER: Isn’t it sad that people now assume that bridal couples must be expecting to profit from their guests in one way or another? And you are probably right that any demurring on your part will raise the suspicion that you want payments without the trouble of laundering your take in the form of presents.

Miss Manners is afraid that your only response to inquiries should be, “You know, we haven’t thought about it because we are really not concerned with getting anything.”

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website