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Miss Manners 1/5

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

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should I respond when thanked by a third party for helping another person? I am happy to say “You’re welcome” when someone thanks me on their own behalf, but I feel terribly awkward when it is a third party, particularly when I don’t feel my efforts are at all above and beyond.

While the issue isn’t a critical one, I would like to come up with a better response than trying to change the subject, which has been my response so far.

GENTLE READER: “I enjoyed being able to do that.” Or, if you want to be wicked, “I’m sure you would have done the same.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My now-husband and I were set to have our wedding (planned and hosted by us, in our town of residence) and reception (planned and hosted by my father, in my faraway hometown) in May 2020. Obviously, we canceled.

We notified our wedding guests of the event’s cancellation – not its postponement. I was not involved in the planning of the reception, so I don’t know the state of the invitations and guest list, and I don’t know what my parents told those guests. We had asked them to cancel the event and told them we were not making any future plans yet.

We later wed in September with a few friends, and sent out wedding announcements to our original wedding guests. We sent my father a packet of wedding announcements to distribute as he saw fit to reception guests.

When we visited my side of the family recently, a few extended family members gave us gifts and expressed hope that there would be a reception to attend in the not-too-distant future. As we were far removed from the planning of the reception, we felt uncertain as to how to respond. I think I said something like, “Oh, thank you – well, hopefully!”

Do we have more responsibility to the original reception guests besides sending thank you notes for gifts given? What should we say about the sentiment they expressed regarding future events?

GENTLE READER: Technically, your father was the host and was therefore responsible for the cancellation notices. But think of parties given in your honor as blank checks against your good name – if anyone remembers what those are. (By which Miss Manners refers to blank checks, not good names.)

You will not be able to disavow responsibility for what the host does in your name, and you therefore want to keep an eye on him. It would do no good, and some harm, when your extended family members ask about the reception, to turn to your father and say, “Dad! Didn’t you tell people it was canceled?!”

The correct answer is, “Thank you. We have been thinking about it, but so much time has now passed.” The next step is to find out what your father’s guests were told while hoping that your instructions were followed.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.

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