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Miss Manners: I want my brother to stop insulting our hometown

Dear Miss Manners: My family grew up in a lovely area. I still live here, while my brother and sister-in-law have moved out of state. My brother occasionally reaches out to ask whether they can stay with me for a weekend to attend events and visit family and friends.

I love having company, and I welcome visitors whenever I can. But since moving away, my brother and his wife have taken to making negative comments to me about the state in which we all grew up — about our governor, the traffic, the high cost of living, the weather, you name it — all while staying in my house!

I am not sure how to respond to these comments. Do I tell my brother ahead of the next visit that he is welcome, but ask him to leave the negative comments at home? Do I decline his request and suggest they choose another sibling with whom to stay?

Do I just smile and tell them I’m so happy they have found a much better place for themselves? I get stressed just thinking about the next visit.

Because your brother grew up in your area, he probably thinks he has free license to insult it — forgetting that his sibling has remained loyal and does not feel the same.

But that does not mean, Miss Manners assures you, that you have to listen. You might say: “I know that you never thought much of our hometown, and I’m so glad you have found a place that suits you better. But I still love it here, and when you disparage it, it makes me feel terrible. I love having you at my house, and it seems as if you like staying here, so perhaps while you’re here, you can find some things that you still like about the place that I still clearly love.”

Then Miss Manners suggests steering the conversation away from the local news.

Dear Miss Manners: I am hosting a brunch in honor of a much younger friend, and I only know four of the 47 invitees. Would it be terribly tacky for me to have name tags for the guests?

I’m 67, and the likelihood of me remembering all the names is very small. If it is relevant, the event will be held in my home.

The desire to connect with all of your guests is commendable, but Miss Manners assures you that no one will expect you to remember all 47 names. The advantage of having so many guests in your home is that it is unlikely that you will have to greet any of them more than once.

Name tags feel a bit businesslike — or like a high school reunion. Should you need to reference anyone, surely your young guest of honor will discreetly come to your aid — or indulge you afterward in a rousing post-party game of, “Which one was the woman with the purple hair and the psychology degree?”

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin

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