DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please advise me of the polite way to remind a grandfather to send a college graduation gift to his granddaughter.
I am the mother of the new college graduate, and I am disappointed that my father has allowed his wife (not my mother) to send my daughter a card that she made on the computer, without a graduation gift.
I telephoned my father to inquire about his gift to my daughter, gently reminding him that graduation season is now over. He told me that he had to take care of his wife's broken bridgework, etc.
Should I bring this up again if no gift is forthcoming in the near future? If yes, how should I bring the subject up? This is the first grandchild to graduate from college.
I will also let you know that birthday gifts to my children are months late, if the gifts ever arrive. The same with Christmas gifts. (In the past, when I have brought this to the attention of my Dad, he acted offended.) Also, I know that my Dad's wife regularly buys gifts for her own grandchildren, and since her grandchildren live near my Dad and his wife, they are frequent (sometimes daily) visitors. My children (my father's only biological grandchildren) live several states away.
GENTLE READER: Just a wild guess, but perhaps you do not like your stepmother?
You may have ample reason, for all Miss Manners knows, and you probably cringed at her applying the term "mother," however modified, to your father's wife.
But none of this trumps the fact that presents are always voluntary, and attempts to extract them are rude and therefore justly offensive to the targets. If your father chooses to ignore his grandchildren, it is a sad loss to him, as well as to them. But periodic payments in the form of presents do not alone establish a relationship -- even if you could succeed in getting them, which you plainly cannot.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have an aging dog (13 years old) that has been arthritic for four years now. She still loves going for walks, and this actually helps her.
But during these walks, at least one to three passers-by comment to me on the age of my dog. This seems rude to me, as I love this dog dearly and they are essentially pointing out that her days are numbered. I actually had a guy tell me, "That dog is on its last leg" (and that was two years ago)!
Were this an isolated or rare event, I wouldn't mind so much, but the fact that I can count on it every walk has me at a constant loss for a proper response. The best reply I can come up with is "Yes, she is probably going to die soon."
How would you suggest I should respond?
GENTLE READER: Politely, of course -- by saying, "She's fine, thank you; are you all right?" And by resolving never to let these people meet your parents.