DEAR MISS MANNERS: I hope you will help me navigate a nasty family dispute. At family gatherings last summer, the hostess, my dear mother, relegated the party to the outside of the house, and decorated the floor from the backdoor to the bathroom with a path of towels, to lessen our impact on her home.
The temperatures soared and so did tempers.
Does a hostess have a responsibility to see to the comfort of her guests regardless of the messiness or rambunctiousness of her children and grandchildren? Does a guest ever have an occasion to request greater hospitality -- and free access to the more comfortable interior of the home?
I left the last family dinner early (and graciously). My sister stayed another two hours and departed only after browbeating my mother for not allowing us inside. Both are assuming that I will take their side in this argument.
GENTLE READER: A hostess indeed has a responsibility to see to the comfort of her guests, although your qualification -- that she do so irrespective of the behavior of the guests -- gives Miss Manners pause. That and the towels.
Miss Manners wonders if it would be worth reviewing the behavior of the rambunctious progeny before admonishing your mother. A bit of moderation all around might prevent your family Christmas gathering from being held in the snow.