DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a widow who has been abandoned by my former "couple" friends and am trying to rebuild my life. Several weeks ago I invited two separate, similarly situated women whom I have recently become acquainted with to have Thanksgiving dinner at my house with my daughter and me. Both of them were noncommittal, and I did not press them for an answer.
I had planned a simple dinner if it was just going to be the two of us, but would have made something more elaborate if we were going to have guests. Two days before Thanksgiving, one of them telephoned to see how I was doing but did not mention Thanksgiving dinner, so I didn't either.
Should I have asked her if she was coming? (It would have been inconvenient to change the menu on such short notice.) Or was it my obligation to follow up with both of them earlier?
There is another holiday coming up soon, and I want to be better prepared when issuing invitations. What could I have done better?
GENTLE READER: Surely it is your targeted guests who could have done better. Much better.
Being noncommittal is not a decent response to an offer of hospitality. Miss Manners does not consider it the host's duty to probe for an answer, but, sadly, that is the only way to get one from rude people. She recommends countering hedging by treating it as the negative response that it really is.