DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it OK to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving?
GENTLE READER: Probably not with your neighbors.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter, who is 6 1/2 years old and weighs about 45 pounds, is a beautiful little blonde with curly hair and blue eyes, and reminds me of an angel. But my mother-in-law, stepmother-in-law and brother-in-law all make comments about her, such as, "She sure has thinned out," and "She's getting thin" and "She's getting tall, she's lost some of her belly."
This infuriates me! My daughter is not the only person they talk about like this (they say stuff about everyone), but she is my main concern. She is fit and cute as a bug, and is NOT overweight in the least. She has never even had "baby fat," so to speak. If anything, she is petite.
Those three are the only ones who have ever made comments about her, and when I tell other people (my friends or other family members), they don't understand what my other family is seeing. The ones who say these things do not intend to be mean -- they love my daughter -- they just seem to be too much into looks and how others look.
It is concerning. I don't want to be rude, but do want to make a point that they are being rude, and if they don't stop, one day my daughter is going to hear a comment that makes her think badly of herself. Girls' self-esteems are so delicate, don't you think? So what should I say to family to get my point across before I go psycho mom on them?
GENTLE READER: It might be too late for that.
But Miss Manners understands your frustration. While you rightly perceive your relatives' appraisals to be insulting in their implication that your daughter used to be overweight, the actual words are that she is now not.
Miss Manners agrees that no weight assessment should be made to anyone, much less a 6-year-old. Unfortunately, we live in a time where being thin is equated with beauty, and losing weight a commendable achievement. In other words, your relatives think they are paying your daughter compliments.
While Miss Manners fears that she will not be able to correct this overall backward thinking, she can indeed reassure you that she condemns their utterance. And in your daughter's case, finds them redundant. Losing baby fat is what children tend to do when they are no longer babies. However, please try to continue ignoring these comments and focus on the obvious joy that you take in your daughter's beauty.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What are your thoughts on being invited to a Thanksgiving meal, only to be asked to pay per person (family)? Not everyone invited is asked to pay, and those that are asked to pay, pay more than a fair share.
GENTLE READER: As this seems to be a business proposition, Miss Manners would think those being charged would weigh the amount of thankfulness they expect to receive in return and check whether there might be a better deal elsewhere.
(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.)