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

DNA Test: Turns Out, Sis 100% Doesn’t Want This Gift

DEAR MISS MANNERS: One of my sisters, who is big into the ancestry research stuff, gave all of her immediate family members DNA test kits for Christmas. She convinced herself that we were interested in her personal hobby.

I told her that I think skydiving is great (not a good example), and that I would congratulate anyone who wanted to do it. However, I would never want to jump out of a plane.

She was hurt that I wasn’t thrilled. I told her that the present was for her -- and because I love her, I will take the test with the understanding that this is her present, not mine.

I think it’s a rude gift to receive for Christmas. There are a lot of jokes and implications that could be made about it. What are your thoughts?

GENTLE READER: Presents that are more about the giver than the receiver are thoughtless; ones that criticize the receiver are rude. There is a difference.

Miss Manners understands that the former has occurred, but sees no evidence to suggest that your sister meant to question your legitimacy or your mother’s honor. You should therefore have accepted the gift with good grace.

You need not, however, actually take the test. If asked, you might say either that you have not gotten around to it, not mentioning that you never will, or admit that you are not as interested in ancestry as she.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife, my son and I have been in the habit of going out to a restaurant together for Saturday breakfast. My wife takes her vitamins in a small disposable bag, and at the end of the meal, she leaves the empty bag on the table. Sometimes she will leave with it a tissue that she has used to refresh her makeup.

My son, who has worked in food service, criticizes her for this, and asserts that no personal trash should be left on the table that was not part of eating the meal itself -- and that it is especially inappropriate to expect someone else to handle the tissue, which might have been used for anything.

My wife is unrepentant. What would you advise?

GENTLE READER: Given your close relationship to the disagreeing parties, Miss Manners would advise staying out of the line of fire. But she agrees with your son that the fact that a restaurant table is going to be cleaned and reset is not an invitation to add to the post-meal debris.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I send an email to a co-worker or a friend requesting a bit of information they can easily supply, should I append an ambiguous “Thanks” to the end? (“Thanks for considering this request”?)

When I receive the information, should I send another email saying “Thanks,” possibly adding to inbox clutter? Or should I do both?

GENTLE READER: Anticipatory thanks are strange, and even due thanks are not always welcome: Grouches will complain that you are filling their inboxes, presumably crowding out notices of cake in the break room.

But they are polite. Miss Manners would not worry about their being ambiguous, as it simply means they are doing double duty.

(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.)

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics