Dear Ms. Plume,For years now, my husband and I have received graduation invitations from a part of the family so far extended that we’re barely sure how we are related; we don’t even know who these graduating children are. Recently we also received a wedding invitation from one of them. I have, seriously, never even met these people, and am a bit intrigued by their audacity in what seems like the continual asking for gifts. What is the proper response? Should I just send a check, and if so, for how much?
Send a nice card for the graduation – no need to enclose a gift, just acknowledge the occasion. However, receiving a wedding invitation does require sending a gift. The best thing to do is to see where they have a bridal gift registry and send a gift that suits you. It may cost less than the amount of the check you would write, and it is what they have requested. Or just go to the wedding and drink lots of champagne and eats oodles of food and make sure that what they have spent to have you there exceeds the money you spent on the gift. There is always more than one way to skin a cat.
L. A. Plume
Dear L.A. Plume,
One again I was dumbstruck by the transparency of some people. I was shopping for (gasp!) a bathing suit in a sweet little boutique where the proprietor was a tiny thing who, first of all, informed me that not many bathing suits look good on anyone over a size 8. (It’s been a decade or two since I’ve seen, or worn, a size 8.) Then she told me, with my “rawther” obvious Massachusetts accent, that it was pointless to go to the beach here since the Yankees have ruined the beach. She continued, despite my somewhat dropped jaw, to tell me that all the people with fat behinds (my word, not hers) that took up so much beachfront, were obviously Yankees who didn’t belong on “our” beach. Since I couldn’t decide which insult was more pointed, the reference to my size or geographic background, I simply tried to smile and resist the urge to ask her if she was trying to be rude, or if she was just plain stupid. Shouldn’t someone who works in a shop be a little more considerate of their customers?
My dear, this is the South – where a maxim is “trash to treasure in ten seconds” – this usually refers to real estate, but manners can be impeccable, or lethally cutting, just like anywhere else. And no matter what anyone’s geographic location, just remember you can always take the girl out of the woods, but . . . So don’t worry about it; just say “Bless her heart,” because in the long run class will out, and you’ll have a lovely day at the beach.
Dear Ms. Plume,
Can we kindly discourage our friends from exhibiting poor table manners without hurting their feelings?
Unfortunately, no. I wish.
L. A. Plume