DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son graduated from high school back in May. We sent a number of announcements to close friends and relatives. We also invited those in our city, and those traveling here for the graduation, to a get-together to celebrate.
Miss Manners: She wants to turn our music festival into a get-drunk weekend
Miss Manners: My rule is no gift for a second wedding, no attendance for a third
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Most people who received the announcement and/or the invitation bestowed gifts or money on my son. However, one such person did not, and although I’ve never said anything to her, it bothers me.
This same person has attended at least four barbecues/parties at my home, where my wife and I provided everything. She and I participate in a morning exercise class along with several other friends, and have done so for years.
She and her husband have considerable means, as they show with their worldwide travel, stays at five-star hotels, and very expensive house, cars and wardrobe. He is a doctor, she is a nurse, and they do not have kids. Never once have they reciprocated with an invite to any function at their home or to a dinner out.
She was the only person not to give my son a gift or card. Do I just keep this to myself, or ask her why she chose not to provide a gift?
GENTLE READER: Exactly why did you invite this person to your son’s graduation? Is she a friend of his?
She is not a friend of yours, as is evident in the way you speak of her and her husband. And they have never cared to entertain you.
Sadly, you have supplied the answer: You have noticed that they have money, and you were counting on your son’s getting some of it. Demanding payment would be a good way to turn these non-friends into enemies. And Miss Manners reminds you that they know where you live.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Lately, I have had two separate co-workers express regret that they wouldn’t be able to attend a meeting because they needed to assist an elderly parent who isn’t doing well.
Having received that knowledge, what should I say to them when I later run into them in the office?
On the one hand, I want them to know that I have sympathy and care about the status of their parents, but on the other hand, I don’t want to bring up a painful subject that they might not want to think or talk about. I really don’t know the proper etiquette in this situation.
GENTLE READER: That sympathy might remind the unfortunate of their problems is one reason people avoid expressing compassion, even after a death. And the avoidance then creates the feeling that nobody cares.
You can trust Miss Manners that people remember their troubles. As these co-workers have told theirs to you, you should at least express the hope — as they are able to return to work — that their parents are better.
You should especially do so if you suspect that the repetition of the identical excuse from different people means that it is just a new excuse for getting out of meetings.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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