DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a single gay man who has been invited to a number of weddings of the children of close friends. While these are friends of long standing, we live in different parts of the country, so I don't know the children well at all.
The wedding rituals, particularly those at many parties after the ceremony, are not things I generally feel comfortable with or enjoy. Is there a way to politely decline without offending my friends?
GENTLE READER: "No, thank you."
Miss Manners shares your distaste for wedding rituals that involve lifting (garments, not chairs), stuffing or donating. A wedding is a dignified affair and its guests should not be coerced into any practices that are unseemly. No explanation -- or need to listen to lengthy justifications of why this particular ritual is considered traditional -- necessary.