Miss Manners: Let mom be the guide on change of Thanksgiving venue

November 13, 2011

Dear Miss Manners:

Since the early ’80s, our family has celebrated the holidays at our parents’ home on the family farm. We each take turns in planning the event.

Is it proper to change locations to another home in the same town? My mom is still living and is in her late 80s. I feel bad for what Mom must think. Please advise.

Well, what DOES your mother think? Are you sure it is not, “Thank goodness, someone is finally taking this over”?

Miss Manners’s advice is to ask her, without being so naive as to think that this can be done in a straightforward way and that the answer will be frank. She is trusting that you know your mother well enough to pay attention to the subtext.

Thus you do not say, “Alisa and Ryan want to have Thanksgiving at their house — okay” and accept, “Fine; do whatever you like” as her blessing.

Rather, you say something like, “We’ve always had wonderful Thanksgivings on the farm, but would you enjoy, for a change, going out and seeing one of us try to live up to your tradition?”

If she replies, “It doesn’t matter — whatever you children decide,” you should talk strongly to the others about continuing to have it at the farm. But if she brightens and says, “Why, that sounds like fun,” it is time to move on.

Dear Miss Manners:

How should one react when one finds oneself in a (small) medical waiting room with a lively baby and proud mother?

I have been caught in a few situations with no reading material, and I’m not sure where to focus my attention. I love babies and I always smile, say hello, wave and ask the babies’ names, etc. Having done that for several minutes, though, I am then at a loss as to what to do if I’m not called into the doctor’s office and I have nothing to read.

I don’t want to appear rude, but when I am not at my best (as is usually the case at these appointments), I’m not up to a prolonged conversation. I fear that I may look rude or grumpy when others in the waiting room seem to enjoy having such long discussions with the proud mom. I do keep a smile on my face as much as possible.

The simple statement “Don’t let her too near me, I may be catching” would do wonders to free you. After all, this is a medical office, not a party.

Without suggesting anything so drastic, Miss Manners suggests concluding your polite exchange by waving bye-bye at the baby and moving a chair or two away. Caught without a book, or the pretense that you are reading one on your telephone, you can always sit back and close your eyes as if you were deep in thought or sleep.

Dear Miss Manners:

Does one wear an ankle bracelet over or under pantyhose?

No. No. At least Miss Manners hopes not. Try the wrist.

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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