DEAR MISS MANNERS: Upon meeting our little girl for the first time, an acquaintance of ours commented: "She's really cute. Of course she's not nearly as cute as our Eva."
Even though this guy had previously proven that he was socially challenged, we were still amazed that he would say such a thing. I can't remember if we responded, but I seem to remember that we were too dumbfounded and simply stood there with mouths agape at his insensitive comment.
Unfortunately, I was ignorant enough to assume that such a situation would probably never happen again.
I was wrong and it did, with a different group of friends. A fellow with whom we have been friendly for more than a decade saw our daughter for the first time in years and commented, "She's truly a beauty, but not nearly as beautiful as my daughter."
I responded by saying something along the lines of, " I would hope that you would feel that way about your daughter." Then I changed the subject.
I'd like to hear your advice to parents who might consider making such remarks about other people's children as well as what kind of response you would recommend for those of us on the receiving end of such comments.
GENTLE READER: "Isn't it wonderful," Miss Manners' dear mother used to ask, "that God gives us exactly the children we like best?"
And isn't it too bad that some of those children are given obnoxious parents? The parents you encountered are not being cute when they put down your child to brag about their own; they are simply being rude. No doubt they will eventually go on to embarrass their children by finding ways to disparage not just their friends' children, but their children's friends.
Your response, which was not rude but made the point that they are merely bragging, was just right.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My parents taught me to write thank you notes from a young age. I always thought it was proper to specifically name the gift that was given (unless it is cash, when it can be referred to as "the gift"); to mention how you are using it or plan to use it, and to thank them for attending the event, if applicable.
However, my husband insists that it is rude to specifically mention the gift, and the only thing that should be done is to thank the giver for their generosity.
I am in the middle of writing thanks for wedding gifts, and now I am starting to question whether I'm doing it right. I have received two wedding gift thanks in the past where the recipient did not mention the gift itself: one where they simply thanked us for attending the wedding, and one where they vaguely thanked us for "the gift."
Am I right, or have I been breaching thank-you etiquette all these years? It seems absurd that I should act as though the gift is unmentionable (unless it truly is!).
GENTLE READER: Has your husband always relished form letters? Does he generally prefer canned responses to ones that are personal and relevant?
To see if this applies generally, Miss Manners suggests that you ask yourself whether those non-specific letters you received gave you the warm feeling that you had chosen something that pleased the recipients -- or that they even paid attention to who had given them what.