Q: ‘Tis the season, and my boyfriend and I have just moved in together. I have three children and he has two, which he has 50 percent of the time. Their home is with their own mother.
Now it’s time for my family Christmas card. I need to know if it’s bad manners to make a family Christmas card with the five children and/or with myself and my boyfriend.
Please help me, because I don’t know what I should do. We are not engaged; we have been together three years, and only for the past two months have we shared a home. I feel my own children, ages 11, 8, 6, wouldn’t like this sharing of cards. His children are 8 and 6. What do you think?
A: Is that more important than what your children think?
And they are not the only people whom Miss Manners suspects that you might annoy. Possibly the other children, and perhaps their mother, by your representing this as their primary family.
And that is not to count many of the recipients of your card, who will be asking one another, “Who are all these people?” Yours being a new household, there are apt to be some on your Christmas card list who do not know about the arrangement.
If you want to take the occasion to tell them pictorially, please limit that to you and your new partner. The children may be included by your writing a brief note about how pleased you are to have them all.
Q: We like to entertain at home, generally small, casual gatherings. Following the event, my husband will often share with others the names of our most recent dinner guests.
I believe this is something that should not be shared, especially by name, as it either sounds like bragging (“We had the mayor over for dinner on Friday”) or could lead to hurt feelings (“Why didn’t you invite us too?”). Am I being too private and/or sensitive?
A: What with postings of party reports and pictures on social media, the rule against telling people about social events to which they are not invited is in shreds. Miss Manners does not see why your husband should add to that, for the very reasons that you cite. Nor can she think of a benign reason for doing so.
Q: I just received a Christmas card and wedding “save the date” card from someone I don’t know. Yet they had our names and address.
So as people do in this day and age, I searched the last name on Facebook, and found that it is the son of my cousin’s daughter who is getting married. Heck, I have only seen this cousin maybe five times in my life (and I am 55), have never even met her kids, so of course not her kids’ kids.
Are we obligated to send a wedding gift? (We won’t be attending.) I was shocked to receive an invite and Xmas card from a total stranger, not to mention to be invited to a wedding of her son.
A: Perhaps lulled by the spirit of the season, Miss Manners would like to declare Benefit of the Doubt Day. Perhaps your relatives merely thought this would be an occasion to become acquainted.
At any rate, a wedding invitation is neither a subpoena nor a bill. As you have not yet been invited, you owe nothing. However, a return Christmas card extending congratulations would be gracious.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.