Miss Manners

Tuesday, November 23, 2010; 12:00 AM

DEAR MISS MANNERS -- Is it rude to bring your own stuffing because you don't like what the host is serving? (The "host" is my daughter, and my boyfriend is the stuffing hater.)

GENTLE READER -- Since this is a family dinner, there is a polite way for him to bring stuffing that he likes. All he has to do, Miss Manners begs you to inform him, is to obtain your daughter's permission beforehand to bring it nicely packed inside of a freshly cooked turkey.

DEAR MISS MANNERS -- My husband and I are hosting our family Thanksgiving celebration this year for 27 family members. Our niece's daughter's birthday falls several days before the holiday, and she asked if she could bring a dessert (of which my mother-in-law has already agreed to provide various traditional pies) and celebrate her 10-year-old's birthday, piggy-backing on our holiday celebration.

My husband and I find this to be very rude. I have already agreed to provide a warm home, family and, of course, napkins, plates and silverware for the event.

What should have been an appropriate response on my part to graciously decline her idea of piggy-backing on our holiday?

GENTLE READER -- When you refer to a warm home, Miss Manners presumes that you mean that you will have the heating system turned on. Resenting recognizing a 10-year-old grand-niece's birthday does not smack of family warmth or Thanksgiving spirit.

You have already planned to have family contributions to your meal and a choice of desserts. Why, pray tell, is adding a child's birthday cake likely to ruin your holiday? Are the children of your family not among the blessings for which you give thanks?

An appropriate response would have been, "How nice."

DEAR MISS MANNERS -- We are expecting our first child. My husband has a very large extended family and large network of friends who don't seem to understand the privacy I need after the birth of the baby.

What is the most polite way to inform family and friends that I will not be accepting visitors at the hospital, nor do I want visitors at home for the first few days after we return?

I don't want to be mean, I don't want to hurt feelings. I am very private, and giving birth, breastfeeding and the natural course of healing is quite private to me.

GENTLE READER -- There is no nice way to tell relatives and friends that it is your baby, not theirs; nor is it wise, as they may be your child's wider support system. But that is what a noninvitation sounds like.

Mind you, Miss Manners does not recommend inviting them into the delivery room, or otherwise surrendering a reasonable amount of privacy.

Rather, you should issue them a positive invitation, preferably before they volunteer themselves to visit. This would say something such as, "We are eager to have you meet Rufus Junior. Please call any time after (date by which you feel you will be ready) so we can arrange a visit."

Judith Martin is the author of "Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding." You may write to Miss Manners at MissMannersunitedmedia.com; via postal mail at United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016; or (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.

Copyright 2010 by Judith Martin; Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.


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