Miss Manners: Host has no obligation to thank in-laws for visiting

October 15, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband’s parents visited us recently from out of state. About two weeks after they departed, I received a terse note from my husband’s grandmother, in which she expressed concern for my relationship with my mother-in-law because I had not written to thank them for visiting.

I felt a bit hurt because we have a new baby, and it was a real effort to clean, shop and cook for their visit. My mother-in-law spent some time playing with the baby, but she did not pitch in with any chores.

Am I truly remiss in not writing to thank them for enjoying our hospitality? More important, what shall I say in the letter I must now write?

GENTLE READER: That your mother-in-law did not “pitch in” does not, at first glance, relate directly to your question — except to indicate that you are attempting to defend yourself by making a countercharge of in-law rudeness.

Miss Manners has no objection to the strategy, merely the tactics.

Nice as it might have been for your mother-in-law to help, they were your guests and cannot therefore properly be criticized on this point. She suggests writing to your grandmother-in-law that it was always your understanding that the guest thanked the host, not the other way around — but that you are not expecting a letter from your mother--in-law, as you know that the rule does not apply to immediate family.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am one who is always on different committees, such as the retirement committee. When my grandbaby came, these same people on the committee didn’t have the decency to celebrate the new arrival with a grandma gift. What to do?

GENTLE READER: Grow up?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have a “couple” in our neighborhood who have decided they do not want to associate with the rest of the neighborhood when it comes to BBQs, parties, etc. Over the past year they have turned down multiple invitations.

At the last event we had, another neighbor approached them to let them know we were having a party with a band. They kindly went out for the evening.

There was some sort of incident that happened over a year ago that triggered this. I was not present, so I don’t know all the details, but it appeared to be petty. The neighbors in question have remained cordial by waving, saying hello, etc., to the rest of the neighbors — they just don’t want to go beyond that.

After a year of inviting them, over and over, is it okay to finally say enough is enough and stop leaving an invitation at their door?

GENTLE READER: Although Miss Manners has not heard directly from the “couple” you name, she has no trouble imagining what their question to her would be, namely, “How do we politely avoid endless, unwanted invitations from our neighbors?”

It seems to her that as they probably picked up on your considering them a “couple” in quotations marks, they are behaving very well.

Her advice to you is to stop. Not only will they not be offended if you stop issuing invitations, it is their most fervent wish.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

, by Judith Martin

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