DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am appalled by a Thanksgiving invitation I just received from my brother's wife's mother. I actually did not receive an invitation at all, but a demand to bring three bottles of wine.
But that is not my complaint. She also asked others in my family to bring the rest of the meal, including the turkey!
Miss Manners, please clarify for me, as I am frustrated that one would ask the attendees to provide the entire meal! I think this is audacious and simply tacky tacky tacky. I entertain all the time and never ask my guests to bring anything other than their presence.
To make matters worse, this "in-law" of mine is not the nicest lady in the world and has only agreed to have people to her home because my brother's home burned down -- otherwise, she would never have us over.
What do you think about all this? Should I refuse to go to this family gathering?
GENTLE READER: What? And miss all that family conviviality?
Miss Manners has always been a staunch opponent of the bait-and-switch invitation, by which people who are asked to come to dinner find out, after accepting, that the invitation was to come with dinner.
But Thanksgiving is somewhat different, and so are the particular circumstances of your family. Because it is often an abnormally oversized meal for a large number of people, Thanksgiving is not infrequently done as a cooperative meal. People who are used to that may believe this to be universal, which is it not.
Another possibility is that your brother and his wife asked her mother to hold the dinner because their house burned down -- not exactly a trivial excuse -- and that they assured her she wouldn't have to do anything because other relatives would bring the food.
In either case, it would be your brother who is at fault for not explaining the terms, not the lady whom you already dislike. If a meal is to be cooperative, rather than hosted, guests should be told that in time to claim that they have another engagement. Furthermore, they should be asked, not told, what to bring. Thanksgiving, especially, is an occasion for such guests to bring their grandmother's specialty, without which, they believe, the holiday cannot be celebrated.
But maybe, since it will be Thanksgiving (and you are already stuck accepting), you can remind yourself to be grateful that your brother was not incinerated and find it in your heart to forgive him.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am soon to be the proud father of the bride. My problem, though, is that my palms tend to perspire quite profusely, mostly because of humid conditions, but often when I am nervous or excited. I am dreading the moment at the wedding reception when I would be expected to shake hands with the many guests.
I wonder, is it accepted for a man to have gloves on in such a circumstance, or is there a way to avoid hand shaking all together without insulting these guests? Are there other solutions?
GENTLE READER: No gloves, but Miss Manners can recommend two other solutions. You could kiss all the ladies who go through the line and hug all the gentlemen. If you are normally reserved, they will put it down to the excitement of the occasion.
Your guests might, however, develop wet handprints on their backs, but these are likely to have evaporated by the time they get home and examine their clothes.
Or you could just keep a handkerchief in each pocket and slip your hands in for a quick wipe between shakes.