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

Backhanded Compliments Are Best Met With Understated Contempt

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there any legal or common sense limitation on the number of giant plastic toys that a 1-, 2- or 3-year-old child should have? We have an infant in this category, with enough such toys to fill at least one nursery school.

Wouldn't it make more sense for someone to give cash or savings bonds for the future, when the child is old enough to buy things that he likes? Someday, the family will have to give away or sell the old toys to make room for the giant playthings of the future, possibly multiple times.

GENTLE READER: Now that the fever of the gift-giving holidays is a distant memory, Miss Manners would welcome a discussion among the "haves" of, "How much is enough?"

There will, however, have to be some ground rules. The first is not threatening generously intentioned relatives with legal action. The second is thinking about those who do not have mountains of toys. Civility is not inclined to abet children who throw a tantrum because they received the wrong present -- even if they are old enough to have children themselves.