DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother-in-law, in her 80s, has been dyeing her hair increasingly bright colors since the day she noticed her first gray strand. Frankly, I think she looks ridiculous, but she thinks she is the sexiest thing walking the face of the Earth, and of course I would never tell her otherwise.
She is happy. It is none of my business.
I have reached the age where I am beginning to go gray, and I am fine with this. I have never been one to pretend I am something that I am not, and I am no longer a young girl. I intend, to the best of my ability, to age with dignity and grace, and to embrace the beauty of every stage of life.
I have no intention of coloring my hair, ever. But my mother-in-law cannot leave it alone. She says I look ancient, that I am letting myself go, and if I would just dye my hair like hers, we could look like sisters. (Not one of my goals.)
How can I get her to accept that I am content with my appearance and not interested in coloring my hair, without telling her she looks like she set her head on fire?
GENTLE READER: “No, we still wouldn’t look like sisters. You’re so modern, and I couldn’t possibly keep up with you. I’d just look silly trying.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I received a save-the-date from my nephew. His father, my brother, told me it’s a small wedding. I figured as much, since my kids, the groom’s cousins, hadn’t received an invitation.
Based on the number of guests my brother mentioned, there won’t be room at the wedding for many of the couple’s friends. We aren’t close to my nephew, and if we declined, they could probably invite some more friends.
Is it tacky to decline for this reason? Should I ask my nephew if he would like that, or should I ask my brother? Of course we would still send a gift.
GENTLE READER: You would be forcing them, if they have any family feeling or manners, to say how much they want you at that wedding. And Miss Manners gathers that you really don’t want to go. So please just decline with thanks and good wishes. That present will emphasize your goodwill.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I suspect I know your answer even before you render it, but I feel compelled to ask anyway: Is there any proper way to eat leftover crumbs?
My usual breakfast – toasted naan coated in olive oil and sprinkled with a variety of spices, minced vegetables and seeds – usually leaves a bounty of delicious leftover crumbs on my plate, and I am reluctant to consign such a tasty, crunchy treat to the trash bin.
This is not an issue when I eat alone, but when I have houseguests, I don’t want to offend them by using bad manners.
GENTLE READER: Then don’t let them follow you into the kitchen when you clear the table.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com.
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