Q: For our daughter’s graduation from high school, we planned a small party for her with immediate family and a few neighbors and close friends.
My daughter does not like parties, so we asked her the week before to please let us know if she was feeling uncomfortable and we would call it all off, no problem. She said she would be OK with it, and we told her she could just come for a bit to say hi and thank her guests.
Day of the party, she leaves the house and doesn’t show up at all, texting her dad that she wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t up to a party.
So now we have 30 people we are apologizing to and feeling extremely embarrassed by her rude behavior. People graciously left monetary gifts, which my daughter didn’t bother to open. On top of it all, her grandparents flew in from out of town, and she was extremely rude to them and didn’t spend any time talking or thanking them for coming.
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So what do we do with the gifts? Do we send back the checks and cash and thank everyone? Do we keep them and not give them to my daughter directly? Maybe use them for her college expenses?
I feel bad keeping them, but I am not sure if it is just as rude to mail them back. Whatever we do, she will not send thank-you notes, either. I will have to do that.
A: It seems to Miss Manners that this is the least of your problems, considering that you have a thoroughly rude and callous daughter.
Ordinarily, it is insulting to return presents, but your guests have already been insulted, and are due abject apologies on your daughter’s behalf, if you must write them. You can return the money with the explanation that as your daughter did not participate in the celebration, you are refusing to let her keep any of it.
Miss Manners does not consider you to be free of responsibility for this fiasco. Leaving aside your duty to teach your daughter manners and consideration for others, there is the question of why you even considered giving a party for someone who hates parties, and your willingness to allow guests to make plans that you offered to cancel a week before.
Q: I exited a stairwell just ahead of a lady in a manual wheelchair who was getting off an adjacent elevator. I held a door open for her as we entered a long hallway, en route to our destination. The hall was narrow, so I walked behind.
She seemed to have no problem navigating through the winding path, but should I have offered to push? (For the record, I did not offer, but opened a door for her as she exited the hall, one stop before mine.)
A: As the lady was not having any problem, why should you have offered to push?
Miss Manners considers that you were polite in offering a conventional courtesy, and that there would be something offensive about suggesting that the lady was not managing well on her own when she obviously was.
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.