Miss Manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper response when someone says thank you for doing something that they should have done themselves? For example, when we divided chores, my spouse agreed to take the trash to the curb once a week for the city collection.

However, he is always running late in the mornings, and if I don't take it out, we would not make it to work on time. Putting it out the night before does not work because of animals getting in the trash (city collects bags instead of emptying trash cans).

So, admitting that there is a whole different question about chore distribution and negotiation, when my spouse says "Thank you," do I really have to say, "You're welcome"? "My pleasure" doesn't feel right either.

GENTLE READER: "Oh, I'm sure you would do the same for me. Which reminds me, I might not get a chance to get to the laundry I was going to do tonight. Do you mind doing it this once? Thank you, that's very dear of you."

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What do we say when people wish us a nice day? My husband and I lived in Paradise, California. As everyone knows, our town was destroyed. We lost our house, our community. We are not having a nice day.

GENTLE READER: No, nor a good morning or good evening or even a goodbye, if people should wish you that. Now that you have told Miss Manners, she extends sympathy instead, and the hope that you will see better days.

But you will help no one, including yourselves, by taking offense from others who unknowingly direct conventional phrases at you without the least intention of minimizing your tragedy.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I recently found out we are having a baby. All of his family lives in another state, and due to work schedules, we will not be able to see them before the baby is born or for a while after.

Is it inappropriate to send a photo announcement to family members and friends in another state after the baby is born? I don't really post on social media, but I don't want his family to feel left out. I also don't want them to feel like we don't want to come visit and so are just "phoning it in."

GENTLE READER: Please tell Miss Manners that you are not asking whether a paper announcement is less acceptable than a social media posting.

But phoning it in is exactly the correct thing to do to the family and intimate friends. It is, in fact, the prescribed activity for a new father while the mother and baby are sleeping it off.

Announcements are for those who are presumed to be interested in the news, but are not on tenterhooks waiting to hear. Electronic ones are acceptable, although less charming than mailed ones, and individually addressed ones nicer than generalized postings.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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