Dear Miss Manners: I am an attorney for whom writing was a well-honed craft for 30 years. I am now retired and enjoy commenting on stories in the newspapers.
So it chaps my proverbial hide when people reply to my comments in ways that not only do not enhance or improve but, by their pedestrian nature, actually detract from the feng shui of my thoughtfully crafted comment. I am tempted to respond, “If you don’t have anything clever to say, don’t say anything at all.” What do you think?
You will forgive Miss Manners for smiling sadly at the idea that you or she can reform public discourse.
The ability to criticize others instantly and anonymously does not bring out the best in the public. So perhaps that is not the place to look for careful writing or thought.
Still, she admires your setting an example, and only quarrels with your temptation to snap back. Isn’t facile public taunting what you oppose?
Dear Miss Manners: How do I politely tell people, in a note in this year’s Christmas cards, that I will not be sending cards after this year? I make my own cards, and the cost, time and effort are just too much.
“Sending you this card was a strain on my finances, schedule and strength. So Merry Christmas for the last time.”
That, in effect, is what you would be saying, however it was worded. Next year, do as you like — send cheaper and easier greetings or none at all. But Miss Manners does not condone negative courtesies.
Dear Miss Manners: Is there a polite way to encourage those who would normally give you gifts at the holidays to give to a charity instead?
I’ve assembled the list of charities that I plan to give to this year, and I would much prefer that my friends and family give to one of these, or one of their own choosing, than to purchase something for me. I haven’t been able to come up with a way of expressing my wishes without sounding like I’m presuming that I’ll get a gift.
If it makes any difference, I generally only exchange gifts with my very closest friends and immediate family.
It seems like a noble gesture — thinking of charities instead of oneself. Bridal couples and those celebrating birthdays have been known to suggest this to those from whom they expect presents.
The problem Miss Manners has with this is that they are being noble with money that does not belong to them. Even when presents are expected, giving them is still voluntary — as is selecting them, despite all those registries and wish lists.
What you can suggest to your intimates is, “Let’s all give to charity instead of exchanging presents.”
Dear Miss Manners: When a grown child who has moved out of their childhood home returns to visit, how much are they considered a “guest” and how much should they be expected to pitch in to the daily tasks of running a household?
Yes, you can tell your adult child to clean up that mess.
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