DEAR MISS MANNERS: We received a wedding invitation that included a slip of paper detailing proper wedding attire in order for us to show respect for the church.
Specifically, women are to wear dresses knee-length or longer, with covered arms and no bosom showing. Hair is to be covered with a scarf or hat (if not, the church will provide a covering). Legs are to be covered with hosiery, and pumps, or a covered shoe with no heel is acceptable. Men are to wear a suit and tie, or sport coat and tie.
Is this appropriate? In our church, we figure that as long as we're neat and clean, God is happy to see us.
We will meet the demands because we love the bride, but it's leaving a queasy feeling.
GENTLE READER: It makes you queasy to think of dressing respectfully to enter a church? Or to attend a wedding?
Would it help if you let your clothes out at the waist? Miss Manners supposes not, if you really do not understand the part that symbolism plays in society and in religion. Beyond the obvious functions of protection and attraction, clothing serves as a symbolic way of conveying information. Religious texts and directives are full of mentions of clothing, sometimes in regard to modesty, but also in terms of respect for a place of worship.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife's mother passed away when she was 17, long before my sister-in-law and I came along. After his wife's death, my father-in-law remarried a wonderful woman that everyone loves and cares for deeply.
My sister-in-law has been calling the new wife "Mom," which makes my wife very uncomfortable. My wife also feels that it is disrespectful to the memory of her mother.
She spoke to her brother about how this really bothers her and found out that it bothers the brother as well, but he is not willing to press the issue with his wife. This has been driving a wedge between our families for about two years and it is getting to the point where our families are no longer social and our fear is that our children will grow up in the same town and not know their cousins.
Is my wife off base here? Is the sister-in-law being inflexible/insensitive by continuing to use "mom" as a title? If we need to discuss this with the sister-in-law, who should discuss it with her? Her husband or my wife?
GENTLE READER: Your wife is not off base in feeling this way -- only in supposing that she can dictate her choice to her sister-in-law. And to her brother, who, for whatever reason, has chosen not to make an issue of it.
Furthermore -- Miss Manners is afraid that you will have to explain this very gently -- your wife is now showing disrespect to her late mother. By making it the cause of a family feud, she is undoubtedly going against what her mother would have wished. No mother wants her children to be alienated from one another. Once your wife said how she felt, she should have dropped the matter.