DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I decided to forego a larger wedding next year for an intimate, immediate family-only wedding this past June. We were both in school at the time, and now he is in the military.
We live in a small apartment and knew that we were going to have to move frequently within the next few years, so we did not register nor ask for any wedding presents. However, last week we received an extravagant gift from my husband's childhood neighbors of a set of expensive porcelain dishes.
The more I think about it, the more angry I become about this gift. I was hoping that my husband and I would be able to pick out our own china pattern, which I believe is a very personal choice. Also we are going to be moving around and don't even have a need for something like this until we are more settled and have a permanent home location.
What do I do about this gift that I didn't want, ask or register for?
GENTLE READER: Have a tantrum about it. How dare those people give you a lavish present not of your own choosing?
Now pull yourself together, please. What would you do if you had a real problem? Miss Manners will tell you exactly what you must do:
1. Write a lavish letter of thanks, as if you were grateful, which indeed you should be, and skip the parts about your dissatisfaction and indignation.
2. Return, sell, or donate the china, or give it to someone whom it will not infuriate.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At Christmas dinner last year, my very best friend was very upset with me and still is because her husband had a nice sweater on, when all other males at the table had a suit on. The next day she confronted me. I explained to her that because it was a Christmas dinner I assumed that her husband would automatically dress up; I also told her that her husband was quite perfect with his sweater. Since that day things are not the same between us. Was I wrong for not informing her about the dress code in advance?
GENTLE READER: Oh, you might have said something if this is the one dinner a year for which the gentlemen wore suits. But have you thought to point out that since you did not issue any instructions, you had no way of knowing that the other gentlemen would show up in suits?
It would be more tactful than the remark that the husband should automatically have dressed properly, given the fact that he did not, however fetching you declared him to look.
Miss Manners has an idea that that might be what galls your friends. Otherwise, she cannot see that you have committed a social crime worth a year's grudge. You cannot tell your friend to tell her husband to grow up, but you can apologize for the confusion and assure her that you will issue dress warnings with future invitations.