DEAR MISS MANNERS: When we go to my wife's sister's house in Florida for two weeks in the winter, she thinks I should spend all my free time inside in front of the TV with them. That is their main entertainment most days.
My wife has no problem doing this. She is not happy that last year I spent so little time with them in front of the TV. To me, if you are with family, then let's do family stuff: games, coffee, talk time etc. Can't do much talking when the TV is going.
They have a great screened-in porch with a pool that is heated. A great view of stuff going on. Great seating with nice chairs and table. I do lots of reading on the porch. I love reading and do 30 books a year, so it isn't something I just do there.
Should I waste great warm weather eight hours a day in front of the TV or just an hour or two?
GENTLE READER: If this were about youngsters passing their lives staring at screens, Miss Manners would say that it was imperative to call in the adults. How sad that this is about adults.
You have presumably tried prying your relatives away with suggestions of games or other family activities. So all Miss Manners can hope to do is to rescue you.
With your hostess putting in full days watching television, the household is probably not running entirely smoothly. As a long-term guest and relative, it would be kind of you to offer to help. Many such offers, such as running errands and gardening, would take you out into the sunshine.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My brother is getting married this year for the fifth time. How much do I spend on a gift?
GENTLE READER: Traditionally, presents are given only for first weddings, but try telling that to serial bridal couples.
Of course, there is nothing against doing so anyway if one is so inclined. If you are, Miss Manners can only admire your optimism. However, there have never been any rules about how much to spend.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I often have business colleagues stay with me in my home when they are in town for meetings. Sometimes there are multiple people, such as when the main colleague brings a student, assistant or technician.
These people may be romantically involved with each other, but I don't know them well enough to be aware of it. Sometimes there seems to be some borderline relationship and/or I'm just not clear about it.
I have two spare bedrooms, and of course I don't care if they share a room or if they want two separate ones. I just don't know how to show them to their room(s) without assuming one way or another. "Here are two spare rooms, do as you will" isn't really appropriate, nor is dancing around a simple question. I'd appreciate some words to use that will neither make me seem like a prude nor embarrass unattached colleagues.
GENTLE READER: Give them the two rooms, and stay out of the hallway.
(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, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)