DEAR MISS MANNERS: My fiancee (now wife) and I wanted to have a potluck wedding reception, where instead of bringing gifts, the guests would bring a dish and share the recipe. The wedding was being hosted at my mother-in-law’s house -- my wife’s decision, as she wanted to be married under a particular tree.
My MIL refused to let us do the potluck idea, saying it was tacky. This has been bothering me, because it feels like she took something from us that we will never be able to have.
Would the potluck reception have been a faux pas as she believes, or is it acceptable?
GENTLE READER: Being a guest and being a caterer are worthy, but different, pursuits.
Miss Manners understands your mother-in-law’s not wanting to put friends and family to work, although she might have found a more tactful way to express it to your wife.
That said, Miss Manners feels a need to caution newlyweds such as yourself against the use of phrases like, “She took something from us that we will never be able to have.” An eagerness to promote short-term grievances into long-term grudges is detrimental to family harmony. If done indiscriminately, it may someday put you in a position to have the second wedding you have always dreamed of.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A few years ago, I made a new friend. We’re both in our early 60s, and have a number of things in common. Over these few years, I’ve noticed that she sometimes lacks commitment to plans we’ve made. Sometimes I find out through the grapevine that she made plans with other friends.
She asked my husband and me if we would go with her to a nearby restaurant for dinner, and together we decided on the following Saturday night. Late Thursday evening, she sent me a text asking if we could meet Friday night instead, because that is the day she “arrives back in town.”
It appears to my husband and me that she puts her plans with us aside when something she considers better comes along. I’m not sure how to handle this. If I confront her, it could cause a break in the friendship (if I am mistaken about her reason for changing plans). Yet I feel I cannot let this continue if I want to maintain this friendship.
GENTLE READER: Confronting her could cause a break in the relationship even if you are correct about her reasons for changing plans.
Ruling out such an approach, you are left with more subtle ways to modify your friend’s behavior -- the most obvious being consistently discovering, to your dismay, that you are not available on Friday. Eventually, your friend will realize that sticking to the plan is the only way she will get to see you.
Miss Manners in this case draws her inspiration from the cat who, though inexplicably deaf to direct explanations of what needs to be done, learns that every time he jumps on the counter, an arm reaches out from the sky and returns him to the floor.
(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.)