DEAR MISS MANNERS: I need to know if it is appropriate for a guest (especially family) to give money to help with food, bills, or what have you after they visit for a weekend or a couple of weeks. My mom always feels that you should give the homeowners something to help make up for the extra electricity or food bills.
I don't agree. I have had 16 family members at once in my house, and I don't expect them to buy anything. It is a once-a-year visit, and I just get prepared.
As a daughter visiting some weekends, should I pay? Even if I visit an aunt with my husband and our three children and help buy groceries because she is a single parent of two, should I leave her money when I leave?
GENTLE READER: Of course you shouldn't be paying your mother, or any other hostess, to visit her. But Miss Manners is wondering whether you should be helping to support her.
Considerate guests, even if they are the hostess' children, have plenty to do without insulting their hosts by indicating that their precious gift of hospitality has a price tag on it. They should clean up after themselves, help with the additional chores, provide treats and, for extended stays, take over the responsibility for an occasional meal, either by taking their hosts out or by doing the shopping and cooking. They must also reciprocate, preferably without checking to see whether the electricity their guests use is no greater an amount than they used at that person's house.
However, if your relatives are in need, you should find a way to help them financially, without tying it to any visits you may make.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: As a child, I was taught never to applaud in church. Now it is very common in my church and others I have attended. It seems that everything -- singing, speeches or any time of performance -- is following by someone saying, "Let's give them a big hand." Everybody applauds except me. Is this right or wrong?
GENTLE READER: You are right, but brace yourself. A lot of angry churchgoers are going to come at you with that quote about making a joyful noise unto the Lord.
Miss Manners is delighted that they have the joyful noise idea, and is all for music, speaking and other decently appropriate forms of worship. But she is afraid the good people missed that part about its being directed unto the Lord, and not unto themselves. Their pleasure may be great, but it is incidental to the purpose of worship, and they should not attempt to usurp the Lord's power of passing judgment on those who are worshipping Him.