DEAR MISS MANNERS: When our daughter graduated from college, all graduation gifts given her were in the form of cash with the exception of an aunt and uncle who gave her a pair of earrings.
I may add that this particular aunt and uncle are known for being very "frugal," often passing along gifts that had been given to them so they needn't spend more money than absolutely necessary.
These same people have greatly valued obtaining a college education, and yet we feel that when it came time to express their sentiments, their sentiments disappointedly lacked. Because the graduation was not local, those attending were responsible to pay for their rooms at a hotel. However, several costly meals in nice restaurants were provided by my husband and I, the hosts. All family members were aware of our plans to provide these meals well in advance, as this information was outlined in an itinerary provided for all those attending.
I felt that such a gift indicated a resistance on their part to give generously as such an occasion would dictate, or so I thought. I'm shocked that they would feel comfortable in giving such a gift that I suspect cost them very little (if not anything at all). Even if the earrings had been purchased, this uncle works in a retail environment where he has access to huge discounts on jewelry. In other words, those earrings may have cost as little as $10.
Shall we thank them graciously despite our feelings on the matter? Would there be a tactful way to communicate our disappointment with their behavior, especially when we feel we were so generous as hosts, not to mention the fact that this was a special milestone in our daughter's life that all other extended family members seemed to acknowledge based on their generous gifts?
They say, "It's the thought that counts." If it is truly "the thought that counts," I don't feel the thought was sufficient for the occasion. What is your opinion, Miss Manners?
GENTLE READER: That these people did too much.
Considering your contempt for them, your willingness to entertain them only in the hope of getting their money, and your notion about denouncing them for coming up short, Miss Manners finds it a wonder that they acknowledged the graduation at all.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: In our home with four children, I feel it is important to extend greetings when we see each other for the first time in the day or when entering the house after an errand.
It is just as important to say "goodbyes" and "goodnights." Not only is it good manners, it promotes a nicer atmosphere in the home.
We do both -- but is it generally the person entering the home or the one already in the home who should extend the first greeting?
GENTLE READER: The announcement of, "Hi, I'm home!" is, in Miss Manners' opinion, a happy one. And it generally leads to an equally cheerful, if not especially informative, "I'm in here!"
(Yes, we know it sometimes leads to "And just where have you been all this time?" but let us hope that is an exception.)
Someone who is at home and hears a noise but no greeting will be forced to call out, "Is that you?"
Not quite as warm, is it?