Miss Manners: Bringing heaters to chilly homes

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dear Miss Manners:

There are two homes I visit regularly, my brother's and a best friend's. I'm always welcome in both places and feel fortunate to be close to both households.

But when I visit them in the winter, both homes seem cold to me. I know that they want to save money by having the heat turned down, but I find it difficult, especially at night when I would like to be able to get comfy in bed and read for a while before falling asleep. Unfortunately, the only moderately comfortable position is under the covers with the sheet and bedspread pulled up around my head.

I have a small space heater with a thermostat that allows me to set it at a specific temperature, such that it turns off once the desired temperature is reached. I sometimes use it in my own home.

Would it be appropriate for me to bring it with me to use in the guestrooms when I'm visiting? I assume I should inform them that I'd like to bring it. What is an appropriate way to do this?

I love these people dearly and feel I should be able to approach them with this, but I do not want to hurt them by suggesting that I'm not comfortable in their home. They are in all other ways quite generous and warm with me.

Warmhearted and warmblooded they may be, but simply announcing that you plan to show up toting your own heating system would throw them into retroactive misery. They would be suddenly realizing that you must have been miserable during all your previous visits.

Miss Manners would prefer that once you are there, you say, "I've been feeling the cold a lot lately; may I please have another blanket?" But if you insist, you can use that "lately" bit, as if it were a peculiarity of yours, to add, "So I've been traveling with a portable heater."

Dear Miss Manners:

The small company I work for hands out Christmas bonuses every year. The last two years I have been with the company, I have received a bonus, but I was not sure as to whether or not I should send a thank-you note to the owner, so I didn't. Once again, I'm torn -- do I write a thank-you note or don't I?

I was always told as a child that when you receive a gift, the proper thing to do would be to send the giver a thank-you note. Are bonuses considered a gift or is it a thank-you from the employer for your contribution to the business for the last year? Should one write a thank-you note for their thanking you? What is the proper way to accept Christmas bonuses?

With gracious thanks.

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