Q. Should birth announcementsd be sent or not? Even though our baby's due date is three months hence, we have begun to inquired about birth announcements. (We may not need them if you reply in the negative to the first question.) I have been informed that the proper announcement is as follows: Baby Newborn Couple Birth Date Mr. and Mrs. Happy New Couple
These are separate cards, joined with a pink or blue ribbon, whichever is appropriate. Unfortunately, the company that engraves these announcements take four weeks. The other company, which does the new "pseudo-engraving," costs four time what the other costs.
We could have a single sheet of paper pseudo-engraved with the words I preously wrote, and without the ribbon. A company could have them in approximately two weeks.
I realize that perhaps we shouldn't be having a baby if we have to ask how much birth announcements cost. However, being a young couple, money does enter into many of our decisions. Should we get as close to propriety as we can afford, or do nothing?
A. Do go ahead and have the baby. Miss Manners is fond of babies, provided they don't leak on visitors, and to help you along in this venture will now save you a pile of money.
Order no announcements. The engraved baby announcement you described is, in Miss Manners' opinion, one of the silliest examples of formality there is. The rationale is that the tiny card with the baby's name, attached to the parents' card, is the little one's "card," in case it should decide to pay formal calls or send flowers to hostesses.
This is not only pretentious and expensive, but impractical because, as you point out, it arrives so much later than the baby. A poor quality substitute for it would be even sillier.
Nor is Miss Manners fond of informal, fill-in announcements, which strain to be cute and which include a line for the baby's weight to show whether you have produced something substantial.
The solution is simple, gracious and cheap. Take a box of pretty paper to the hospital with you, and a roll of stamps. It is an agreeable and restful occupation to write brief letters to your friends, informing them that you have a new baby and , at the same time, that you will have a new address. Now -- take the money you were to have given to the engravers and put it into a college tuition fund for the baby.
Q. Why, in all my travels through Scandinavia and France as a youth, was I served the salad after the entree was eaten, while here in the U.S.A. it is served and eaten before the entree?
A. The Europeans were following the conventinal order for dinner courses, one that Miss Manners still prefers. However, one more usually has salad served first in America for one or all of three reasons:
1. Some people believe it is better for the digestion for the figure to fill up on salad first.
2. In California, which always has to do everything differently from normal people, salad is served first.
3. Restaurants serve salad first in order to give people something to eat besides bread while they are cooking dinner. Many people copy this because they believe that restaurants epitomize correct service. This is an error.