DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is a polite way to answer a direct solicitation for money by a candidate for political office, when one respects the individual, but does not share their political views or affiliations (and therefore does not wish to contribute)?

We also live in the same school community and will see the candidate and his family frequently.

GENTLE READER: Under more distant circumstances, one can say, “Please give me your literature” — a politician can hardly protest your implying that you want to know more about him. But Miss Manners realizes that it is not going to work with someone you know and will continue to see.

Fortunately, you can honestly say, “I want you to know that I admire you. But I’m afraid I’m spoken for.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would appreciate your insight regarding the topic of divorce. Should one learn, through a secondhand source, that a neighbor or acquaintance is experiencing divorce, is it appropriate to say anything; and if so, what is best?

GENTLE READER: Silence is best. For all you know, what you heard is untrue, or the couple has since reconciled.

But even if you just heard it from an impeccable source, there is a general rule that applies to all major changes in other people’s lives: Do not tell people news about themselves that you have heard or guessed. But because few people seem to realize this, Miss Manners will provide additional examples:

-- You do not congratulate a lady on her pregnancy, no matter what shape she is in, unless she mentions it.

-- You do not ask a couple whether they are engaged, even when you see them at a wedding where you are carried away with romance.

-- You do not talk to a high school senior about colleges unless he volunteers that he has already been accepted.

-- You do not commiserate with people who look tired or sick, even when they announce that they are, in fact, sick or tired.

If the people concerned want you to know what is going on in their lives, they will tell you.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’d like to clear up a family matter about when it’s appropriate to write thank-you notes, and how soon after the event.

(1) For a birthday gift?

(2) For an engagement gift?

(3) For a bridal shower gift?

(4) For a wedding gift?

(5) For any gift?

GENTLE READER: (1) Immediately upon receiving it.

(2) Immediately upon receiving it.

(3) Immediately upon receiving it.

(4) Immediately upon receiving it.

(5) Immediately upon receiving it.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend of mine made a big speech and hoopla at my wedding to her boyfriend about their one-year anniversary, and dedicated a song to him and a dance. Can you please explain your thoughts on this?

GENTLE READER: Your friend’s thought was that she would like to have a wedding of her own. Your thought is that your wedding was supposed to be your own. Miss Manners’ thought is that it didn’t really matter: Everybody there knew that you were the bride and she is hoping to be one.

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

2012, by Judith Martin

Distributed by Universal Uclick for UFS