DEAR MISS MANNERS: I realize we lead a technology-filled life, with cellphones, laptops and so forth. However, lately I have received text messages as invitations to baby showers and birthday parties.
I refuse to attend a party given by someone who does not even have the time to send out proper invitations. Am I being old-fashioned, or am I correct to assume there should be etiquette where proper invitations are concerned?
GENTLE READER: The choice you offer implies that the old-fashioned should necessarily give way, a premise with which Miss Manners does not concur. She agrees that to be taken seriously, an invitation should be issued in a dignified manner. And she also recognizes that there are those who will therefore judge her to be old-fashioned.
So how is it that you might also catch her texting? Or overlooking someone’s failure to issue proper invitations? Put that down to two other old-fashioned values: appreciating others’ convenience, and overlooking their lapses.
Widower has a girlfriend
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our mother passed away two years ago, and now our father has started to date. While I am happy he has a companion (he is 60), my brother and sister are not. They are mad at our dad and want nothing to do with his companion.
Our dad is very hurt by this, and it is causing some major rifts in the family. Dad recently asked my brother and sister to meet his new girlfriend, but they refused and were very rude about it.
I live 1,800 miles away from home, so I hear about what is going on only through phone conversations. It angers me that my brother and sister are treating Dad like he is doing something wrong.
Is this something only time can mend? Or is there something I can tell my brother and sister to stop their making this a big deal, and letting Dad find some happiness while he still can?
GENTLE READER: Although Miss Manners agrees that your siblings’ reactions are selfish, they are nevertheless visceral and unlikely merely to fade. You do have to talk to them, but she cautions against denying that it is a big deal.
To them, it dishonors their mother’s memory, or at least indicates that she has been forgotten, which would be a big deal. But as she was also your mother, you may be in a position to persuade them that it does not mean any such thing.
The usual argument is that the deceased would have wanted the surviving spouse to be happy and to be taken care of. The first part is not always plausible in regard to finding happiness with someone else, but the second probably is.
You can make that vivid by saying that your father is growing older (everyone is, so this is true no matter what his age and health), and that you cannot expect them to be always around to check on him. And that while you worry about him, living 1,800 miles away you cannot do so. They may then see the advantage of delegating the daily monitoring to someone who, although by no means a replacement for your mother, is also emotionally attached to him.
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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