Miss Manners: Getting only semi-stuffed is no Thanksgiving crime

November 24, 2011

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How much do I have to eat?

When Uncle Edgar’s wife died and he took up “gourmet” cooking, he insisted on taking over the family Thanksgiving, which is about 20 relatives from both sides. The trouble is, he gets “hurt” if everybody doesn’t eat themselves sick. And frankly they all do, so I get a lot of grief for not being a disgusting pig.

When my cousin had a vegan girlfriend, they all picked on her, but she dumped him, and now I’m it. I eat everything, just not six helpings of it, and not three desserts. (My grandmother always brings her special pies, and every year, Uncle Edgar, who hates her, tops them by making a different gooey French thing.)

Last year, the others backed him up when I refused seconds, “joking” about how I must be bulimic and whoops, they wouldn’t want to use the bathroom after me. That doesn’t even make sense. Meanwhile, they’re all complaining, “I’m stuffed! I’m stuffed! I’m going to burst! Hey, pass the sweet potatoes down here.”

I’m on my high school swim team, and I just need to keep in shape. How did I get to be the rude one for NOT stuffing myself? My parents claim to be supportive, but they also say, “Poor man, he’s just trying to be a good host, and you have to put up with it only once a year.” (At Christmas, he goes on a cruise.) So — is it rude not to be stuffed on Thanksgiving?

GENTLE READER: All right: Miss Manners is hereby issuing a Thanksgiving ban on both the act of stuffing others and the declaration of oneself being “stuffed.” The only exception applies to the turkey.

More on Thanksgiving in the 2011 Holiday Guide: Advice, recipes, photos and videos

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please tell me this “just ain’t so.” Our oldest granddaughter recently set her wedding date, and she and her spouse-to-be are paying for the reception themselves. We were then informed that she and her spouse-to-be are expecting to be refunded for the amount they are expending on the wedding and the reception in the form of cash payments and/or expensive gifts.

When we said we thought that was appalling, we were told that “everybody expects it today” and that the “older, wealthier guests” are expected to take their checkbooks along to the reception, decide how much their share of the “bash” is going to cost, and then write a check for the amount they feel is appropriate. We have refused to fall in with such a grubby idea.

I honestly feel like just attending the wedding itself and excusing myself from the reception. We helped this child with large contributions toward her education to supplement the jobs she had and grants she obtained. We did that willingly, but THIS! No way!

GENTLE READER: On all but one point, Miss Manners heartily agrees with you. And that is when you report that your granddaughter and her bridegroom are paying for their own wedding reception.

No, they’re not. They are only investing the up- front money with the demand that they be reimbursed. They are, in effect, selling tickets. Like you, Miss Manners considers this a commercial opportunity worth skipping.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

@ 2011, by Judith Martin

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