DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I and almost all our friends are fully vaccinated against COVID, or soon will be. With the exception of last year, we have held a summer party at our home annually for decades. We anticipate that we will do so this summer, following CDC and local health department guidelines. We hope to be able to have around 20 people, all of whom we know to be fully vaccinated.
A couple of friends who live nearby have always been invited and have always attended. However, they have let us know they are choosing not to be vaccinated. We are not comfortable including them this year. Because of both tradition and proximity, they will know the party is taking place.
How does Miss Manners suggest we handle this? If we don't mention the party to them, what should we say if they drop by that day (which could happen)?
I'm sure many others will face similar dilemmas in the near future, and I hope you can give us some guidance.
GENTLE READER: Even under normal circumstances, guests have no business assuming that they have permanent passes to annual parties. But they do, don't they? Even the ones who fail to reciprocate.
Miss Manners thinks of a friend who gave an annual New Year's Eve ball, but planned to be out of town one year and therefore issued no invitations. Forty people showed up at his house.
Still, the host is not responsible for others' unwarranted presumptions. You need not explain why you are not inviting these people; they will probably be able to figure it out for themselves. Any discussion is to be avoided if at all possible.
Should they actually show up, you can say, "You told us you were not planning to be vaccinated, so we assume you are keeping social distance. We hope to see you when it is safe."