Q: Our entire family was left speechless this Christmas, when we received a Christmas greeting from a relative, a "professional man," on which his 14-year-old daughter did the artwork.
The family agrees that we have all seen lovelier scribblings and finger-paint smears rendered by preschoolers. The girl's father photocopied this abhorrent drawing of a girl standing by a Christmas tree and a fireplace hung with stockings; he wrote "Merry Christmas" and signed the family names on the bottom, using his worst handwriting.
He mailed a copy of this garbage to all the people on his Christmas-card list, in used envelopes, crossing out the previous sender's return address and sticking on his own "Dr. and Mrs." return label.
This relative can afford to send out the most expensive Christmas card available, with all the engravings and embellishments.
Do you think it would be best to advise him that he is cheapening the custom of greetings, and to delete him from our lists, or should we write "Refused" and "Return to sender" on the envelopes?
A: Whose family are you -- Raphael's? Miss Manners cannot think of another explanation for the bizarre notion that only fine artwork may be sent at Christmas time, and that failure to meet the family taste level should be met with a war declaration.
As a matter of fact, the taste scale of Christmas greetings always places family drawings above purchased cards. Artistic talent is considered irrelevant; family feeling is supposed to replace cold esthetic judgment. Try that on your branch of the family.
And while Miss Manners is at it, she might point out that the expense of "engravings and embellishments," the saving on photocopying or old envelopes, and what others can afford above what they spend are not proper topics for Christmas-time speculation.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.