DEAR MISS MANNERS: Having immigrated here 30-plus years ago, I understand that life in a new country is intimidating. We go through culture shock and try to hang on to our customs, because they're familiar.
Yet I am appalled at the manners of many immigrants. Of recent years no one has been forced to come to this country. So, we can only assume that those who are here have come because the U.S.A. offers a better life.
Yes, there are some Americans who are unpleasant, but I have found the vast majority to be wonderful. Initially, I was critical, but it's a passing phase, based in insecurity. This country has been better to me than the land of my birth ever was. It is my home. There comes a point where we have to decide to either embrace this country or depart for another destination.
Do not continue to "use" the benefits provided by life here while insulting those who provide you with that opportunity. I think that what initially appeared to be a handicap (the fact that I knew no one from my original country) turned out to be a blessing, as it forced me to integrate. God bless America.
GENTLE READER: Yes, indeed. And one of our blessings is the ability to grouse without its putting one's basic loyalties into question.
It seems to Miss Manners that you are in an excellent position to say that you, too, felt critical at first, but have come to appreciate the very benefits that probably prompted you -- and them -- to immigrate. An American tradition that ought to be practiced more often by everyone is that of helping smooth the way for newcomers.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My 30-year-old daughter, who has been with her husband for seven years and married for two, came over with her husband for lunch last Saturday and announced with a big smile that she had some good news -- she was pregnant.
I, of course, squealed with excitement. This would be my first, long-awaited, dearly desired grandchild.
The next remark, delivered deadpan, was my husband's: "Are you going to keep it?"
I was shocked and my daughter looked offended, so I tried to act if my husband was just joking outrageously and admonished him playfully. Later, when I asked in private why he had made that remark, he said he was just joking. But he has said before in public that he is not ready to be a grandfather, so I believe his mixed feeling about the event produced this negative response.
Should he apologize to my daughter and her husband for spoiling the most exciting news my daughter has ever delivered by implying that she might be considering destroying her baby?
GENTLE READER: Of course -- but saying that he is sorry he said it is not enough to do the job. Especially if your daughter is aware of his idiotic feeling that the child will block his delusion of youth, she will think him sorry only that he blurted out his feelings.
So part one of the apology will have to stick with the story that he was joking, along with an admission of shame about what poor taste it was. Part two will be to bolster the joke excuse by declaring heartily that he was sure everyone would realize that it was the exact opposite of his true feelings.
Lame, Miss Manners admits. But if he then smothers everyone with congratulations and enthusiasm, it will do.