DEAR MISS MANNERS: I disagree when it comes to the ban on families giving bridal or baby showers. In my day, it was the bridesmaids who gave the shower, but today bridesmaids have extra expenses — engagement parties, dress, shoes, hair, makeup, gift and hotel room. Same goes for a baby shower — usually it’s your friends, but they have families of their own.

With today’s economy, it’s very hard to budget that expense, and some friends live out of state. In most families, parents can finance the showers.

GENTLE READER: Really? Why does Miss Manners suspect that you have a popular but unengaged daughter, and that you might change your mind when you are faced with financing an entire wedding? Could it be because so many of the people who take issue with Miss Manners are seeing only their own side, and not that of others, to whom they cheerfully assign whatever they wish to escape?

The funny thing is that Miss Manners also tries to rescue bridesmaids and other friends who feel — or worse, are told — that they must give parties they can ill afford. But she does not accept the premise by which you merely reassign the expense: the unfortunately widespread belief that lavish showers are an essential part of wedding festivities.

Bridal showers, and for that matter, baby showers, are supposed to be informal gatherings of the honoree’s close friends, who give charming little (repeat: little) presents befitting the circumstances-to-be. For the honoree’s parents to give showers, whether or not they can afford to do so, not only looks vulgar because of the focus on presents, but also destroys the premise.

Those monster showers given today have become a burden on both hosts and guests, another in a series of events designed to collect whatever goods the honorees have announced that they want.

Miss Manners’s antidote is not, like yours, to stick someone else with the bill. It is to return the shower to its proper place as an optional, lighthearted gathering of intimate friends.

Bridesmaids who decide that they want to give such a party would first figure out what they can afford, as indeed any host should. A tea or dessert party in someone’s home would not only be inexpensive but, to Miss Manners’s mind, far more delightful than anything held in a commercial establishment, however pretentious.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Due to an out-of-state job transfer, I am unable to spend as much time with my grandchildren as I would like. My ex-husband’s new wife, who I suspect would rather spend less time with my grandchildren, texts photos of my grandchildren to me. I am not entirely sure of her motivation. How should I respond?

GENTLE READER: The motivation? You mean because it couldn’t possibly be that she thought you would like to see pictures of your grandchildren?

Miss Manners gathers that you are looking for a way to construe this as a vicious act to which you can make a withering reply. You will have to do that on your own. In the meantime, please thank the lady. No dispassionate person could construe this as being an insult.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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