DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am expecting my first child, but I have been informed by a knowledgeable acquaintance that because I am an unmarried woman I should not send out birth announcements when the baby arrives. This is because, I guess, my situation is too shameful to be broadcast to my friends and family. Many of them already know, but perhaps they've been too kind to say anything.
This acquaintance also let me know that women in my condition do not get baby showers (really, I wasn't expecting a shower -- a relative with small children has generously given me more baby things than I need).
I replied, "That's very interesting. Thank you."
I live in a liberal area, so my condition doesn't seem all that exceptional to me. Am I out of touch with the rest of the country's mores? Have I utterly disgraced myself? (I admit that part of me is looking for approval here, but part of me genuinely wants to know, so I can start working on the appropriate facial expressions.)
May I send out birth announcements when the baby arrives (it will be soon), or do I truly risk offending people with my brazen unmarried-motherhood? As a side question, more than one person has commented on my future child's "illegitimacy." I have responded with a joking "Hey, if anyone is illegitimate here, it's me; let's not insult the baby!" Do you have a better response?
GENTLE READER: As there are two parts of you, Miss Manners will address them separately. One part might be happier about that than the other.
The purpose of birth announcements is to announce the birth. (That needs to be said because there are those who believe that the purpose -- probably of the birth, as well as of the announcement -- is to extract presents.) So of course you should announce the birth to anyone you think will be interested. Or perhaps to anyone you think will be not just interested, but pleased.
That brings us to the part of you looking for approval. Don't.
To do so is to acknowledge that others are invited to give their opinions -- and you have already answered your question about whether mores have changed to the point that you can expect everyone's opinion to be favorable.
What you should expect is tolerance, and you are quite right to be insulted when you are the target of mean remarks.
The reply to such is a frosty "How kind of you to point that out."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Could you please tell me if wedding veils are appropriate only under certain circumstances? There seem to be two extreme rules of thought on this issue. One is that it's "my day" and I should do and wear whatever I want, and the other is that a veil is a traditional garment suggestive of the bride's purity. I fear that if I honor either of those philosophies in full, I will look foolish.
GENTLE READER: As brides who believe that they can do whatever they want are pure nuisances, these rules cancel each other out. Miss Manners only recognizes the rule that wedding veils must be worn with wedding dresses. They look silly with blue jeans.