DEAR MISS MANNERS - My nephew, who lives out of state, adopted a baby about a year ago. He never bothered to send announcements; his father, who also lives out of state, informed us through word of mouth.
Isn't it proper etiquette for the adopting parents to notify out-of-state family by sending an announcement? Had he done so, we would have had his address to send a gift for the baby. We would like to send something, but feel that an announcement should have been sent.GENTLE READER - Please tell Miss Manners that she is hearing you wrong; that you are not planning to withhold a baby present you presumably intended as a kindly gesture to a relative because you think you have discovered a technical etiquette violation.
As a matter of fact, you happen to be wrong about that. Direct notification of the news by a new baby's father or grandparent is the most intimate way of announcing an adoption or birth. Mass-distribution announcements, whether the pre-printed, fill-in type or expensively engraved cards, have always been on the fringes of etiquette, anyway; the preferred written announcement is a brief personal note from the parents.
By the way, Miss Manners does not accept your excuse about not being able to find the address. The grandfather has it, and very likely so does the telephone operator.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - I can't get lace for gauntlets to match my formal short-sleeved wedding gown, so I would like to wear elbow-length gloves. What is the etiquette? I have heard of either removing the gloves during the ceremony or wearing the ring over the glove.
GENTLE READER - Do not - repeat, not - attempt to put a ring over a glove. It is not fitting, and it won't fit. Challenging a law of etiquette and a law of nature is no way to start a marriage.
There was a traditional solution to this problem, but in Miss Manners' opinion, it was a dreadful one. That was to slit the seams of the glove's ring finger, so that the ring could be put on the bare finger. This is a good way to ruin a pair of gloves and, at the same time, achieve the effect of having a loose bandage hanging from your finger. Miss Manners suggests removing the glove.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - A friend gave me a very elegant farewell party, as I am leaving the country for several years to take a job abroad. My friend asked me for a list of people I'd like to have at the party, and sent invitations to all. However, little by little, she started inviting friends of hers - a few of whom I don't really care for. Since she was hosting the party, I graciously went along, but I did feel a bit irritated at times.
The party turned out nicely, but it wasn't the intimate group of my personal friends that I had hoped for. What should I have done, without hurting my friend's feelings, before it got out of hand?
GENTLE READER - As Miss Manners understands it, you disciplined yourself to do the right thing, by allowing your hostess to include some of her own friends in a party that she was, after all, giving, even if you were guest of honor. And it turned out well. Why are you fretting now?
DEAR MISS MANNERS - I am having an 80th birthday party this year, and I need suggestions on entertaining a mixed group of friends - some old, some new. The celebration will be held at a country club or some place similar.
GENTLE READER - This could be a splendid party or a dreadful one, depending on whether you mix your guests or allow them to form subgroups within the party.
Your first duty is to make sure that the arrangements - food, music if any - do not favor one generation at the expense of another. Your second is to make sure that people who did not previously know one another are drawn together through the common bond of their friendship with you. If you run around putting people together in unlikely combinations, claiming that "This is the young man I told you so much about," or "I want you to know my dear childhood friend," without stopping to think if you ever meant before to get them together, you will mix the guests and make them all feel cherished at the same time.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - When invited to a meal, especially a family meal, I have been taught to offer my services in bringing the food to the table and clearing the table for dessert. Now I am told that the hostess should request my help before I offer. In my estimation, a hostess should not have to ask for my help.
GENTLE READER - Your original teachers were superior to your present ones, who ought to be arrested for practicing false etiquette.
The offer should indeed be made by the guest, unless you are talking about daily family dinners and the guest is really a small member of the family who has to be reminded with a gentle "Would you mind clearing the table, dear?"
The hostess decides whether she will accept the help that is offered. A "No, please don't get up" should be taken seriously. Some people think it is kind to argue or defy such an instruction. Their hostesses - and Miss Manners - consider them to be nuisances.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - I recently married and took on my husband's name. He is a Jr., and I'm not sure if I am to use the Jr. also. For example, am I "Mrs. Paul Smith Jr." and "Mrs. Ellen Smith Jr."? Please advise me of the correct way.
GENTLE READER - First you have to tell Miss Manners how much of your husband's name you are taking on. One can't be sure of anything these days.
"Mrs. Paul Smith Jr." (or the somewhat snazzier "Mrs. Paul Smith, junior") is correct when you use his full name. However, your signature is "Ellen Smith," and your business name is "Ms. Ellen Smith" without the junior. Unless, of course, your mother's name is Ellen and she has now married your father-in-law. As Miss Manners said, one can't be sure of anything these days.