DEAR MISS MANNERS: For the past 10 years my family has been celebrating Thanksgiving at my sister and brother-in-law’s home. Now we have received an email from our brother-in-law about how to dress when coming to Thanksgiving dinner.
My sister explains his lengthy treatise by saying that “he just feels very strongly about the way women dress these days.” By the tone of the three-page treatise, we can see that he is very upset about the current state of “undress” of the female of the species, — in other words, low-cut tops showing cleavage and breasts.
None of the females who attend the dinner each year has ever dressed in the manner he describes, but we are tempted to do so, now that he has warned us not to. Actually, we might have even agreed with some of his points if discussed at dinner, but we have never before received an email from him and do not wish to argue with him via the Internet.
We are wavering between covering ourselves from head to toe or wearing the lowest-cut tops we own. Which would you recommend, and what do you think about the inappropriateness of his warning?
GENTLE READER: The total cover-up has Miss Manners’ vote as a response to this email, which is not just inappropriate but extra-insulting, as it was unprovoked by you recipients. You should aim for satire, not rebellion, which would only provoke a matching speech, setting a record for soporific holiday dinners.
You have forwarded the entire text of your brother-in-law’s rant, and Miss Manners was struck by his annoyance that the local newspaper did not print his views of the decline of civilization as expressed in female fashion, and his accusations that he finds this not only tasteless and somehow “aggressive” but also “sexually provocative.”
So he has self-published, as it were, an unprovoked attack on a captive audience. He seems sadly in need of a ranting blog, where he might find like-minded people to encourage him.
Then there is his suggestion that his wife be asked to testify that “I am anything but puritanical in our private life.” Talk about tasteless.
Oh, well. Miss Manners hopes that you are able to salvage some merriment out of the occasion. What is Thanksgiving without a nutty relative?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I love hosting family dinners on holidays. But I have family members who think that if they don’t show up they are still entitled to some of the food.
And if they do show up, they think they’re entitled to take some of the food home with them, even if they never bought the food and more guests are still on their way.
Should there be a limit on food quantity, too? How do you define moderation when it comes to drinking soft drinks and eating burgers?
GENTLE READER: May Miss Manners skip that last question if she addresses the rest of your query? She considers it rude to monitor how much people eat — or, in the case of Thanksgiving, pick on people for not eating enough.
Your relatives have evidently mistaken your home for a soup kitchen. You have no obligation to run one for them.
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.
© Universal Uclick 11/18