DEAR MISS MANNERS: Could you enlighten my husband and me on the correct way for him to help me into my coat? The nights are turning chilly now, reminding me that I will soon have to pull out my winter wear. I have this heavy tapestry coat that I love wearing for the holidays and special occasions. Invariably, however, at the end of a lovely evening, my husband will try to help me into my coat. That's when the trouble starts. I circle in vain, looking for a sleeve, while he's pumping the coat up and down saying, "Over here. Over here." I would gladly put an end to this ritual.
GENTLE READER: Please tell your husband that Miss Manners says he should stop being funny. He knows perfectly well how hard it is to hit a moving target, let alone to enter one with one's hand behind one's back. And if he doesn't, insist that he allow you to demonstrate by helping him with his coat using his method.
To perform this maneuver properly, the gentleman should hold the coat's shoulders at the height of the lady's shoulders. When she puts her hand behind her (some using the over-the-shoulder method and others the up-from-the-waist method), she should hold it still. He then moves the armhole down until he is able to slip it over her hand. When both hands have entered the sleeves, he moves the coat up and over her shoulders.
It is actually a charming ritual, provided both of you refrain from flailing.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would like to know what my options are for sending thank-yous to my daughter's friends and family who have given her birthday presents. She's 4 years old and can write her name, but not much else.
Is it appropriate for me to send a note of thanks written in her "voice"? (e.g., "Dear Grandmother, I adore the curtains you sent for my birthday. They match my bedspread so beautifully! Thank you so much for thinking of me. Love, Alice" -- written in my hand?)
Would her contribution to the note in the form of her "signature" and perhaps a drawing be good? When her friends give her gifts, is a note addressed to that friend and his or her parents together appropriate?
I am hoping that writing thank-you notes will become second nature for her, but I want the notes I'm sending on her behalf to be appropriate, too.
GENTLE READER: Her contribution should be the wording. This may take some work on your part, Miss Manners is afraid. You will have to pull it out of her. And before that, you will have to put it in.
It goes something like this:
"Alice, dear, what shall we say to Grandmother about the lovely curtains she gave you?"
"Yes, very good. But we need more than that. Do you like them?"
"Did you notice that they have the same color that is in your bedspread?"
"How did she know that?"
"Remember when she came up to your room to see your dolls? She must have noticed your bedspread. Isn't that thoughtful of her?"
"OK. How does this sound?"
Then you read her the gracious letter that you have created by quoting your questions as if they were her answers, and you have her sign it.