DEAR MISS MANNERS: I love hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have hosted these holidays for all my siblings and their children every year since my mother got sick and was no longer able to host it herself. My parents are, of course, invited, and it really ends up being a potluck, but I always have it at my house.
Now that my boys are married, they seem to not want to come to our house every year. One of my daughters-in-law even suggested that I let her host it at their apartment one year and try out some new "traditions."
I feel very insulted because I am not yet sick like my mother was/is nor am I too old to host these holidays and don't see why my sons or their wives would imply this.
They also seem reluctant to visit us at the house very often the rest of the year but invite us to come over anytime we're in town to visit them at their apartment.
Isn't it good etiquette for the younger to visit the older? I often visit my parents, and they don't visit me except for these two holidays. I thought I raised my boys to have good manners, especially toward their elders. Please help me know what to say to my sons and daughters-in-law to fix this.
GENTLE READER: How about "Thank you for your kind invitation"? An invitation is not an insult, and your children are not insinuating that you are incompetent or sick by inviting you to visit them.
But before you conclude that Miss Manners has joined the conspiracy, she would like to point out that showing appreciation does not constitute an acceptance. It is a way to open a conversation without turning it into an emotional tug-of-war.
You should explain graciously that you enjoy giving those dinners; your daughters-in-law should reply equally graciously that they would enjoy having you as a guest. And then you work out a compromise that allows each of you to do some entertaining and some being entertained. And you remember to be thankful that your relatives want to be hospitable to you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My 21-year-old grandson asked me a candle question for which I did not have the answer. He said he had been told that one never displays a candle that has not been previously lit. His information was that any candle should be lighted, if only momentarily, so the wick would indicate the candle was not new.
Is there such a rule? Perhaps you could do a bit on candle etiquette.
GENTLE READER: There is such a rule, Miss Manners has to admit. It is the sort of thing that makes people think that etiquette has nothing better to do.
The idea is to discourage using candles just for show; they should be there because they are used. (Yes, you can fake that by blowing them right out, but so what?)
The only other rule that comes to mind is not to light candles during daylight. And oh, yes, don't set the guests on fire.