DEAR MISS MANNERS: Can you please tell me when it is appropriate to lick or tuck the flap of an envelope on a card? What is the thought behind either?
I'm a tuck person, unless money or a gift card is enclosed or when mailing; my daughter is a lick-every-card person. Please end our 20-year battle!
GENTLE READER: Only if you promise that you and your daughter have the next topic of debate lined up. Miss Manners would hate to be the cause of the zest going out of your conversations.
Have you noticed that wedding invitations come with two sets of envelopes, but only one of them is gummed? This is because envelopes are sealed when they will be handled by strangers, as the outer one is, but the inner one is not.
The strangers, in such cases, are our friends at the post office. But if an envelope is handed from its sender to its intended recipient, or put in the hands of a friend to be delivered, the flap is only tucked in, the latter instance being a sign of trust that your intermediary will not peek.
So basically, you win. Miss Manners' condolences to your daughter.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: This is a first for me. My husband and I have been invited to a renewal of a couple's wedding vows. There are two squares on the return card. One says we will attend (and how many); the other is my "first": "We cannot attend and wish to extend our congratulations." Our "congrats" were written for us. Is this the new normal for responses?
Also, we didn't recognize the names of the Mr. & Mrs. and asked our kin and friends. We finally discovered the "Mrs." is my sibling's granddaughter, whose married name I didn't know. This is, apparently, their first anniversary. Yes, they're very young. Any comments?
GENTLE READER: It seems part of the trend whereby wedding hosts are taking over the functions of their apparently untrustworthy guests.
After all, why do people who issue invitations feel that they have to answer them as well, with a form requiring only a check mark and a signature? What is more, many of these cards refer to declining as expressing regret, without consulting the actual feeling of the recipient. And few couples nowadays would dream of letting their guests choose what to give them as presents.
So Miss Manners supposes that they might as well offer themselves congratulations on behalf of the guests. As brides and bridegrooms like to say: It's their day. Guests have increasingly become supernumeraries whose direction and lines the beneficiaries supply.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How does one reply to an invitation while one is in mourning, from deep mourning to almost the end of a mourning period?
GENTLE READER: By thanking the would-be hosts and saying, "I'm not going out socially now; I'm in mourning."
Miss Manners is afraid that you must keep repeating this while they lecture you about how the living must go on living, the deceased would have wanted you to go out, it's time to achieve closure, and so on. Please don't let it get to you.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)