Dear Miss Manners: I have a nephew who is getting married this June. His fiancee is a gem of a girl, but my nephew and I have almost no relationship.
Miss Manners: We disagree about politics. Should I skip his wedding?
My feeling is that I should just keep to myself and send them a nice gift. But at the same time, I don’t want to hurt my nephew’s bride. What say you?
Unpleasant family duties are not a new invention, although Miss Manners recognizes that the level of unpleasantness is on the rise.
You should not attend if you know that your presence will, through no fault of your own, cause a scene that will mar the event. Merely that you will be bored is a less convincing excuse. If you do not attend, nothing bars you from writing a charming letter to the bride, welcoming her to the family and expressing your disappointment that you were not — without giving specifics — able to attend.
Dear Miss Manners: At a dinner party, I was stunned to see one of my guests grab a handful of marinated olives and sun-dried tomatoes from a serving bowl without using the spoon provided. She then passed the bowl to the guest seated to her left. Most of the other five guests helped themselves to olives using the spoon. I believe that I was the only one who saw her put her hands in the bowl. I didn’t have any olives in reserve to refill the bowl, and there was no way to immediately remove it from the table without making a scene. How could I have handled this situation?
As the bowl had already been passed around, you might as well have waited for a natural opportunity to remove it. Miss Manners suspects that your real concern is about the olives already taken by the unsuspecting five.
Do you have a public health duty to clear the table and send everyone home? Perhaps — if you know something they do not, such as if your grabby guest is ill.
But barring that, you will have to hope that the behavior you observed had, as seems most likely, no adverse consequences. You can also pass the dessert counterclockwise — or, if we can dispense with informality, serve the guests yourself.
Dear Miss Manners: My sister and her husband got married 40 years ago, then divorced within 10 years after having their children. They got back together several years later and have been remarried for the last 15 years.
The 40th anniversary of their initial marriage is coming up. Would it be appropriate to celebrate their 40th anniversary this year?
So long as your sister and her husband only celebrate their 40th anniversary once, Miss Manners is willing to start the clock whenever suits the now-happy couple.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.