DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son will be receiving his Ph.D. at a ceremony this June. I am wondering what the proper procedure is for announcing this (to me) exciting and important event to relatives and friends.
Does one send announcements like for a regular graduation, or is it better to let people know individually? During these tough economic times, which have hit some family and friends rather hard, I don't want people to think that we are asking for gifts.
However, it would be nice if people were to send my son a nice card. What would you suggest?
GENTLE READER: Does the Doctor of Philosophy know that his mother wants to drum up cards for him? Just a guess, but would he be saying, "Mom, please, I know you mean well, but..."?
Miss Manners feels no such exasperation. She finds your pride justifiable and charming. She only wants to make sure that others do, too.
A formal announcement of it as "an exciting and important event" will not do it. It lacks the endearing "(to me)" part. To whom would you send it? It is too cold for your close friends and relatives, your son's friends already know, and acquaintances will not find it exciting.
The approach to take is the one that actually corresponds to your feelings: "Guess what? Skipper got his Ph.D! Can you imagine? I keep thinking of all those years I had to nag him to do his homework -- and he turned out to be a real scholar!" and so on.
You will agree that such sentiments are best delivered in a breathless, I-know-I'm-bragging-but-I-can't-help-myself tone. Sweet as they are, they are not suitable for engraving.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a private person and don't confide in many people. I am known for "keeping to myself."
Last year, my house was robbed and all my heirloom jewelry was stolen, along with my laptop and several books of checks. Fortunately, the crooks were bumbling amateurs who cashed my checks and were quickly caught. My laptop was returned but not my jewelry, and their court cases wound slowly through the legal system. Final sentencing was earlier this month.
One semi-close friend who knew of the situation noticed that I was late coming to work on the day the criminals were sentenced. I confided that I had been to court that morning to observe the sentencing, and her reply to me was: "Oh, THAT again. You need to get over that already. It's not like they killed someone."
I was so stunned that I just stared at her in silence, then left the scene.
What would the correct response have been? If I could have spoken at that moment, I would have blurted "That is the rudest thing anyone has ever said to me, EVER." Should I have confronted her?
She is actively avoiding me now and I'm sure she knows it was the wrong thing to say. I have no wish to reconcile with her, or engage her in conversation ever again. I would just like your opinion.
GENTLE READER: It is that you are fortunate that this person is avoiding you, because it saves you the trouble of avoiding her.
Thus Miss Manners hopes you will be spared an explanation that will be, if anything, more offensive than the original rudeness.