DEAR MISS MANNERS: Upon opening what I thought would be a wedding invitation from good friends, I found, printed on very nice stationery:
"Our wedding is coming but oh, what dismay.
"The venue is small on our big day!
"Though we can't squeeze you in during our special hour,
"Would you please come to our wedding shower?"
Underneath is a list of stores where the couple is registered.
How rude and hurtful is this? What a gift grab! I don't even feel up to making a RSVP.
GENTLE READER: Why, it was just recently that another bridal couple wrote Miss Manners that they were sending "a sweet poem that is nice for asking for cash" with their wedding invitation.
Do we have a trend here? Is the word spreading, in the white tulle set, that crudeness is charming when it is put into rhyme (even if not exactly rhythm)?
However, Miss Manners insists that you reply to the paltry invitation you did get. One rudeness does not excuse another. How about:
"Accepting with pleasure
"A day of leisure (British pronunciation required),
"We wish you the best.
"As you are feted and wed,
"We'll be home in bed;
"Good luck, and the rest."
Well, no, not really. Please forgive Miss Manners that lapse and write a simple answer declining the shower invitation.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: For the last several years, my husband and I have hosted a quite nice holiday party (catered food, serving staff, crystal, silver, etc.) for friends and neighbors.
As planning begins for this year's party, I can't help but notice when I review the guest list that there are people we haven't seen since our party last Christmas. It would be nice if some of our guests thought enough of us to at least have had us over for a drink at their home, but that is not the case with several couples.
How do I politely drop them from our guest list? What would be an appropriate response if someone inquires if we are having our party and they are not invited?
GENTLE READER: Unfortunately, people often do treat annual parties as a sort of public service, failing to reciprocate and brazenly assuming they have standing invitations. It is, as you have found, a poor return for hospitality.
For that reason, Miss Manners advises skipping an occasional year, or at least varying the party -- one year making it New Year's, instead of Christmas, for example -- so that you can honestly say that you are not giving the usual annual party and dislodge the expectation.
Even now you can still claim, to those who have the nerve to ask, "Oh, we're not having that big party this year. We'll just be getting together with a few people whom we see all year."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it OK to give my boyfriend a hint that I want a promise ring for Christmas? He usually gives me money.
GENTLE READER: But did he make you any promises? Or are you just on his payroll?
Miss Manners would think it prudent to establish the sentiment before trolling for the symbol.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)