DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in a quandary what to do about giving a Christmas present to my cleaning lady. I had to cut her hours back from every other week to once a month. At Christmas, I always gave her a small present and a check for one week's work. What do I give her now -- the same amount as before? I don't want to lose her, as I really like her.
GENTLE READER: Then increase the amount. Not because you don't want to lose her, but because it's the right thing to do. Times are hard for you, Miss Manners realizes, but they must be all the harder for your cleaning lady, especially since you had to cut her hours back. Please think of other ways that you can economize.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My brother and his wife got married in April of this year. For Christmas I received a card with three pictures from their wedding on it saying Have a Merry Christmas.
I found this very tacky. Am I right? Or is this normal? As in it's been less than a year. It's their first Christmas as husband and wife? Or more my thought: The wedding is over. Now move on!
GENTLE READER: Here is a minimal Christmas-spirit suggestion from Miss Manners: Let's not critique the personal photographs on the cards.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was raised where we bathed at night before going to bed, and washed/changed our bed linens weekly. My husband and I have raised our children to do the same. I was also raised that when visiting, you always removed the bed linens and took them to the owner's laundry or left them folded at the foot of the bed.
We have so many visitors and family that come to our home, and they do not bathe until the following morning. We have seen this even after some have traveled all day visiting restaurants and rest stops along the way.
We have even had extended visitation, a couple of weeks where the couple never washed or changed the sheets, even making the bed with these bed linens on them before they left.
It has been decades where so much emphasis has been put on the spread of germs and flu that we are exposed to, the sloughing of our skin, personal hygiene and bed begs.
Should my husband say something? If so what? Or should we just go out and buy vinyl mattress protectors for all the beds that are used by the visitors?
GENTLE READER: Or install a car wash outside of your guest room? Miss Manners gathers that you don't much care for your houseguests. They must be relatives. There is much honest confusion about what guests should do with the sheets when they leave. Would the hosts prefer to have the sheets in a pile ready for the laundry, or would they rather have the room look intact even though they will have to strip the bed later?
Miss Manners' Solomonic solution is to pile up the sheets but also cover the bed with the bedspread or duvet. She thinks that your guests merely guessed wrong about which method you wanted rather than figured that you would go on using their sheets. As for the two-week guests, what you should have said, part way through their stay, is "Here are some fresh sheets."
However, you do not get to choose whether your guests prefer morning or evening showers. A polite hostess does not take notice of such things.