Q: My son is graduating from high school this year. I would like to send announcements to my husband’s and my aunts and uncles.
While I know an announcement is just that, announcing the graduation, there is sometimes an expectation of sending money or a gift. Many of these relatives are on a fixed income and cannot afford a gift.
I know they would want to know about my son’s graduation, so I want to send them an announcement; however, I do not want them to feel obligated to send a gift. Would it be appropriate to include a note stating that gifts are not necessary?
A: Graduation announcements do a lot of damage, Miss Manners has observed. Although you are quite right that they are not demands for presents — the only response required is congratulations — recipients are hard put to think what other purpose they actually serve.
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Formal announcements are made when there is an event that would be of such interest to so many people that other means of notification are impractical. So before buying the school’s package of announcements, you should ask yourself how many people who would really care to know about this, such as relatives and close friends, don’t already know, and how many people who don’t know would much care.
As you have already said that you could write notes to the people on your list, there can’t be hundreds of them. So why not just send them friendly notes, inquiring about themselves as well as mentioning the graduation? Or post the information wherever you put family news?
Q: I am not a religious person, but I treat other people’s beliefs respectfully. When others I am with are praying, for example, I lower my head and hold my hands together.
But there is one situation I struggle with: when people pray for financial gain. To say that I find this repulsive is an understatement.
Should I just keep my mouth shut and play along, or is there a polite way to opt out?
A: There are people who pray for all kinds of reasons you may not find worthy of God’s attention: to win games, to smite their rivals, not to be caught when they did wrong.
But Miss Manners reminds you that these prayers are not addressed to you, however conspicuously they are uttered in your presence. By politely remaining silent while prayers are uttered, you are not endorsing the content.
Q: Many restaurants serve shrimp with the tail on, which presents a question about how to eat this gracefully. Does one pick up the shrimp by the tail to eat it? How does one eat the tiny morsel left in the tail? If the shrimp is cut up, do you leave the tail untouched? I want to enjoy every bit I can.
A: Having conducted a long and unsuccessful campaign to persuade restaurants to peel shrimp entirely, ready to be properly eaten in their entirety, Miss Manners would appreciate your support.
She gives you permission to bite into the tail to dislodge the meat, after having used it as a handle if no seafood fork was provided. Shrimp cocktails are expensive enough without sacrificing that morsel.
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.