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Hello, I'm Home!

Wednesday, March 2, 2005; Page C10

Dear Miss Manners:

Although our society has become quite informal in recent years, I still find occasions where the personal social card would be useful.

In the past, ladies indicated their day at home in the lower left-hand corner of the card. I do not have a regular day at home, but would, on occasion, like to use the card to indicate a day or series of days when I will be at home to callers.

Is it acceptable to pencil or ink that information in, or would it be more appropriate to have separate cards printed?

Are your friends familiar with this custom? Miss Manners remembers it fondly, but then her memory goes back a long way. Others might think that you accidentally sent out the card on which you had written your regular hair or therapy appointment.

She does not want to discourage you from allowing your friends to drop by informally on a specific day when they know they will always find you at home. It is a charming custom and peculiarly suited to today's bad habits, as it is one of the few recognized (or once-recognized) social events to which an advance commitment is unnecessary.

But you will have to make allowances for social change. To begin with, the mail service will no longer accept the tiny personal card, so you should use the larger-size "informal" or "correspondence" card. This has more room for a message, which is fortunate, because you can no longer merely write "Tuesdays after five" or even "at home Tuesdays" and expect anyone to understand it as an invitation. If you ask people specifically over for the first such day and explain your plan to them, perhaps they will catch on, and you will have revived a very pleasant tradition.

Dear Miss Manners:

On several occasions I made a couple of short outfits and dresses for my two great-grandchildren (ages 2 and 4), the children of my grandson and his wife, who live out of state. I never received acknowledgments of these gifts but know they received them.

My daughter-in-law told me that my grandson's wife expects my grandson to send a card of thanks because I am his grandmother and not hers. I feel that the mother in the family usually does the card sending (since these are her children, too), and the father usually leaves this up to his wife. Who is right?

Nobody. The great-grandchildren are held blameless on grounds of youth and presumed illiteracy, and the rest of you are all focused on the wrong question. Including you, Miss Manners regrets to say.

The point, surely, is that you were never thanked. Whether this is done by the lady of the house or the blood relative or whichever of them has legible handwriting is an issue for them to decide between themselves. To let the task go undone because they are unable to settle this is inexcusable.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at MissManners@unitedmedia.com or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

© 2005, Judith Martin

© 2005 The Washington Post Company