DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m not wealthy, but I’m quite well off and need nothing. Rather than give me gifts, several members of my family observe milestones in my life by donating to charities of their choice in my name. I appreciate the thoughts and always thank them appropriately.
In recent years, however, one couple have begun donating to charities that are anti-gay, to say the least, and they know I am gay. Am I under any obligation to thank them? Would it be considered rude to tell them I find such a donation in my name to be very inconsiderate?
GENTLE READER: Not only inconsiderate, but also somewhat fraudulent. Miss Manners would go to greater lengths than you to stop someone from putting her name on a charity that she condemns. Rather than thanking them or not, you might attempt to stop the transaction in advance by saying, “I appreciate you thinking of me, but I would prefer not to be associated with a cause with which I disagree. I’m sure you understand.” By no means should you let them engage you in a discussion of why.
A rude surprise
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DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother took my 18-year-old son out to lunch at a nice restaurant. She does this about once a year. After they finished their meal, a centipede dropped from the ceiling onto my son’s already empty plate.
The restaurant apologized profusely and offered two free desserts, which neither diner was interested in at the time. The restaurant then offered two free future desserts, which were accepted by my mother (who was paying for the meal). She eats at this restaurant fairly often. My son does not, as it is a bit pricier than he can afford as a student on a part-time salary.
When they came home, he talked about the two of them going to the restaurant again to take advantage of their coupons. My mother said that as she had paid, both coupons were hers. He said thank you for the lunch and dropped the subject but still feels that my mother was a little discourteous.
While I am pleased he didn’t complain or demand, I would like to tell him his instincts are correct as far as being a polite host goes. Are they?
GENTLE READER: Congratulations to your son for his impeccable manners and wise decision not to speak up. Miss Manners assures you both that his instincts were absolutely correct.
If your mother is going to split hairs, as it were, and attempt to bring ownership into this equation, she might have taken note that the coupons were a result of a centipede that descended upon your son’s plate, not hers. Possession is, after all, nine-tenths of the law.
So your son’s polite request to share the coupons was not only warranted, it was also just. In the interest of keeping the peace, however, it would be best to keep this between ourselves — and the centipede.
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.
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