DEAR MISS MANNERS: My partner and I are having a disagreement over the proper etiquette concerning holiday cards. I have always included a very short, handwritten note in each holiday card, including the recipient's name and that of their family members, as an addition to the greeting printed on the inside of each card.
My partner complains that this is a colossal waste of time, and implores me not only to abstain from writing a greeting, but also to purchase a stamp of our combined signatures that we can then imprint on every card. Short of this, he says we could create a "form greeting" on the computer and run each card through the printer, which would automatically fill in the recipient's name and family information.
I think that such an impersonal greeting would be rude. Perhaps the card envelope may have a printed address but surely a handwritten note inside is the most appropriate.
My partner insists that since most of these greetings I write are very similar in wording, the recipients would know that I spent little time on their particular card, and would not be offended by a typed message instead.
However, this sounds very rude to me, and suspiciously like the form "holiday newsletter" which I deplore. Your thoughts?
GENTLE READER: Who are you, Tiny Tim, that you think personal sentiment should be part of the holiday?
And if the gentleman thinks your own handwritten sentiments will be scorned, what does he believe you would accomplish with a preprinted formula?
Miss Manners would be wary of such a one, in regard to life, as well as to correspondence. But perhaps his attitude would be welcome to those who feel that the holidays have not become sufficiently rote and commercial.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: After we had passed the salad bowl around the table, my younger teenaged son helped himself to the salad by using his hands to pick out the assorted pieces he preferred.
When reprimanded by his father and grandmother, he replied that he would never behave as such in public, but at home manners could be more informal, and that, after all, he had not touched any of the remaining salad, eliminating any health concerns. He said that family is where one could relax and not worry about conventions.
To some extent, I believe he is right, but where should one draw the line? If he knows the rules for public behavior and there is no logical reason to forbid using ones hands, is this a matter of concern?
GENTLE READER: A matter for concern? It is a full-fledged etiquette emergency.
Miss Manners hates to break this to you, but your son is not the master of two sets of manners, formal and informal. The style he is using is piggy manners, and he is arguing that the disgust of his relatives has no weight with him.
That he also knows and employs charming manners that he uses in the presence of those whom he cares less about is something Miss Manners very much doubts.