DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband bought my daughter a pair of diamond stud earrings that she had told him she didn't like/want. She appreciates the thought and gesture but doesn't care to wear them.
Would it be wrong to politely ask him to go with her to trade them for something that she would wear more?
GENTLE READER: Why miss another chance to show him that his outpouring of sentiment and generosity was a failure?
All presents are laden with symbolism, Miss Manners warns you, but jewelry is explosive with it, and never more so than when given by a gentleman to a lady or relative to one of the next generation.
The young lady who rejects Grandmother's ring, telling her that it is too old-fashioned, should probably not have high expectations about the will. Ladies should never confuse gentlemen by accepting jewelry if not prepared to accept the gentleman who offers it -- nor by criticizing a proffered ring when intending to take the gentleman himself.
This is not to say that those on the receiving end must wear jewelry they dislike, except on occasions when doing so would feel worth it to please the person who chose it. If a grateful fuss is made at first, it may not be crucial, as time goes by, if the jewelry is worn less. Or one may explain having stones re-set to strengthen the prongs or modernize the setting.
Miss Manners' choice for your daughter would be for her to throw her arms around her father, claim that she had been too overwhelmed to know how to react (which is certainly true), give him a huge kiss and put on the earrings.
She can then put them aside "for special occasions." They will not lose their value, and later, if she does not come to value the sentiment enough to keep them, perhaps for the daughter she may some day have, she can privately trade them without embarrassing her father.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm 59 years old. I've begun exercising and dieting, leading to a large weight loss. I've also had facial rejuvenation surgery since my weight loss. I've not kept the surgery a secret, nor have I broadcast it about.
How do I respond to those who talk incessantly about how good/different I look. A simple "thank you" does not even begin to suffice. I have acquaintances who after three or four meetings still want to discuss this topic only.
How do I turn this off? I've tried gently changing the subject.
GENTLE READER: Tell them how much you believe in good nutrition and lots of exercise, and then look at them searchingly and add, "Don't you?"
Miss Manners would have suggested this even if you hadn't gone over your regimen. It is amazing how quickly some people can turn a compliment into a gossip-probe or a plea for "the secret" of looking good by some trick that involves no effort. And how quickly they are willing to drop the subject when their own habits may come into question.