Q: A member of my family hit the lottery for a sizable sum. She is getting married and would like a shower, not for the gifts, but to celebrate the occasion.
Do you have any suggestions how she can feel special but also suggest the gift of money so she could make a donation to a favorite charity? We certainly don’t want to offend anyone, but we want to do the right thing.
A: Your relative won the lottery, and she is contemplating asking her friends to let her direct their money?
Let us leave aside the vulgarity of suggesting her own shower and endeavoring to seem generous by using other people’s money. These transgressions have become so common that they now seem to bother no one except Miss Manners.
But she promises you that for someone who just struck it rich to ask others to give even more, for whatever purpose, will only enrage them. If any bride should hang back and wait for others to volunteer honoring her, it is your fortunate relative.
Q: I was adopted at birth. Since the adoption was privately arranged, my parents had my original birth certificate, and I knew my mother’s maiden name. My parents (now both deceased) never had any problem with me asking about my birth mother or trying to find her.
In my 40s, I located her, and we became friends. (A strong, funny and delightful woman, by the way!) She had since married and adopted two children. She told me she was not telling her children about me because, although they knew they were adopted, she didn’t want them to get the idea that they weren’t her “real” children. I didn’t mind and didn’t try to contact them. After all, my “real” mom was my adoptive mother.
I sent her a small gift recently and was surprised that she didn’t email me to let me know it had arrived. When I emailed her to ask her, I got a reply from her daughter, saying that her mother had passed away a few months ago, and did I want the gift back, and how did I know her?
I prefer to tell the truth when it doesn’t hurt anyone other than me, but I’m not sure if I should in this case. Your thoughts?
A: That you know your mother’s preference was to keep this information from her other children and that she was in a better position than you to know whether knowing this would cause hurt. In any case, it seems to Miss Manners that you have an obligation to honor those wishes.
Too often, people believe that the virtue of truth-telling trumps all other virtues and that it requires telling the whole truth, which often means airing only the teller’s opinions, and usually not the nice ones.
Here you need only offer your condolences, do as you like about the present and explain that you knew her mother through your mother, meaning your adoptive mother, but without explaining the claims each of them has to that title.
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.