DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am moving from a spacious house in a farming town to a tiny apartment in a big city and need to radically purge my possessions. I have been calling friends about items they might want and asking them to reimburse me for shipping with a rough estimate of what that would cost (I am not covering boxes and packing supplies -- just the post office cost).
I also wanted to have a "giveaway" for people in the area, where I would have people over for wine and cheese and have everything in one room that needs a good home and let people take whatever they wish. But a friend thought this was odd, that I should have a box for donations toward moving expenses or something, so people didn't feel awkward.
Is it OK to ask people to cover postage of a not-gift/gift like this? Do I need to put out a box for donations? I really love many of these items, and knowing they are going to a friend where they will give pleasure makes it much easier to part with things.
GENTLE READER: Your friend's idea would spoil your charming one, changing a generous party into something like a yard sale. But Miss Manners is afraid she is going to have to spoil your fun anyway.
She begs you not to give that party. That is because you may end up wishing you were dead. The dead at least do not have to watch people they care about squabbling over their possessions. Families have enough trouble dividing up estates in a civil fashion without your putting a miscellaneous collection of friends to the test.
It would be far better to invite your friends to choose from among the available items, one at a time. It is not unreasonable for them to assume shipping or moving costs for the items they take, which is quite a different thing from their assuming your own moving costs as the price of accepting what you so gracefully want to give. Finding a way to reciprocate your kindness is their problem, not yours.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in my mid-40s and thinking of getting a facelift. It so happens that most of my friends are either colleagues in their early to mid-30s with children under 5, and friends in their 50s and 60s who are aging au naturel and don't believe in plastic surgery.
Do you have any recommendations on witty lines to deliver post-facelift to people who can't relate to this choice?
GENTLE READER: While you are thinking, have you thought of not telling people that you might be getting a facelift? Or, if you must explain your absence, leaving it vague by saying that you are having some minor surgery that you do not wish to discuss?
Of course not. You want to be in their faces, which you know may result in their insulting you to your face, and so you want Miss Manners to help you insult them back to their (aging) faces.
She can't face it. Should anyone say something unpleasant, she recommends replying, "Well, if I had looked as good as you do, I wouldn't have had to do it."