DEAR MISS MANNERS: What should we "loving family members" do after our "beloved family member":
1) Marries, has three children, divorces a man;
2) Asks us, "Why didn't you tell me you thought he was a creep?"
3) Has a long-distance lover for four years (not during marriage) -- who we all really like -- but who never seems quite able to move to her city even after three job and city changes -- due to career opportunities -- and has canceled vacations with her (and us) at the last minute;
4) Flies to see her lover every other weekend because it's "easier" for her than for him;
5) Cries to family members about her finances, how hard it all is for her, and about her ex-husband not letting her move with the children to her lover's city;
6) Becomes very resentful when we family members finally tell her that maybe her lover isn't playing fair with her?
Were we wrong in addressing our fears to her? I now fear for our future relationship with HER.
GENTLE READER: You must realize that you were wrong to think it would help. Much as Miss Manners sympathizes with the desire to shout warnings when observing someone pursuing disaster, she recognizes that there is a time to give up.
The answer to your relative's accusation that you failed to warn her should be the formula you use when tempted to issue futile advice: "We were (or are) relying on your judgment."
The hope is that this will eventually make her realize that she doesn't have any, but Miss Manners is afraid that it might be a long wait.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Apparently, among my spouse's extended family, it is common to hold a "presentation shower" in which those invited to a bridal or baby shower are asked to contribute money for gifts which have already been selected and purchased by the guest of honor, be it the bride or mother-to-be. Invited guests may or may not know ahead of time what these gifts are.
Guests are then asked to bring a card with money in it to the shower and place the card in a box when they arrive. Is this an accepted practice for showers in some areas or cultures?
If one is invited to such a shower, must one give a gift of money toward the pre-purchased gifts rather than bringing a gift of his or her own choosing? I had never heard of a presentation shower before, and where I come from this would not be considered proper or polite, but perhaps I am out of the loop on this one. Please enlighten me.
GENTLE READER: The "presentation shower" is also new to Miss Manners, and she is sorry to be enlightened. While fervently hoping it is an aberration, she is aware that any device for eliminating thoughtfulness from acts of friendship in the hope of increasing the take is bound to spread.
If you agree to attend this appalling event, you are pretty much committed to going by its rules. You could try telling the hostess that, oops, you had already bought something and could give that instead, but Miss Manners warns you to be prepared for the argument that the personal touch is inconsiderate to the guest of honor.