Q: During a recent family dinner, my uncle presented an odd gift to everyone there. He’s in his mid-50s and involved in the community and government of a small town. He and other “public figures,” most of them older, decided to publish a calendar. On each page there is a nude photo of an aging community luminary posing with strategically placed objects covering his/her “goods.” To say the least, the photos are not flattering, funny or particularly modest.
Not only did my uncle give one to every family member, including my 80-year-old grandparents, but he took pains to point out HIS photo. The awkward silence that followed ruined an otherwise nice family dinner.
Did this gift cross the line? Is there a rule of etiquette regarding risque pictures of oneself? And how do I make sure I never have to see any other family members in their birthday suits without my consent? — Flabbergasted in the Heartland
A: Personally, I think the premise of the calendar is a hoot. While your uncle may have wanted to “shock” the family, I’m sure he didn’t intend to offend anyone. A movie was made a few years ago about a group of older women in an English village who did something similar to raise money for charity.
I’m sorry your family was offended, but I’m sure they’ll recover and so will you. In the future, don’t accept any gifts from this relative unless they have a warning label.
Q: My friend “Sara” invites herself and her two children over to play with mine from time to time. When it’s time to have a snack or eat, she and her kids make themselves at home, especially with the milk.
Abby, I work 70 hours a week. My children eat cereal often and love milk, but because of my schedule, I don’t get a chance to go grocery shopping as often as I should. (I am a single parent.) How do I politely tell my friend that it’s fine to make herself at home, but getting both of her children refills of milk without asking me is taking it too far? She knows I can afford it, but I’m uncomfortable asking because I don’t know how to draw the line. — Working Mom Out West
A: I assume you communicate with Sara outside of her drop-in visits to your home? The next time you talk, text or email her, explain that you love her company and she’s always welcome, but because of your 70-hour work schedule you don’t get to the market as often as she does, so when she brings her kids, please also bring a quart of milk with her. To do that is stating the facts, it isn’t rude and it isn’t asking too much. If she’s your friend, and not a user, she will comply.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.