Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Gift From the Heart Should Be Accepted With Grace

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My in-laws spent a week at our home, and when they were leaving, they gave us a thank-you card with a very thoughtful message, but which also included a $200 gift card.

My reaction at first was that it was minimizing our hospitality by being excessive. But then, after declining the gift card twice, I realized that it was a gift from their heart, and I should accept it as they had also accepted my hospitality.

Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin -- if given from the heart. Aren’t they?

GENTLE READER: Yes, if you are sure that is so. As you believe in your in-laws’ good will, and have read their kind message, Miss Manners will take your word for their warm intentions.

But she knows why you hesitated to accept. Had they given you an actual present of any kind, you would have shown immediate gratitude. Their awkward gesture of handing you the equivalent of money as they left, as if paying a hotel bill, could seem cold and even insulting.

But motivation counts, and you know they meant well, so you were right first to protest, but then to accept in the spirit in which it was intended.