Wedding canceled — return of gifts not so smooth either
Dear Miss Manners: A wedding celebration I was to attend was called off at the last minute. I cannot fault anyone for canceling the nuptials if the bride or groom did not want to get married. But my mother told me, years ago, that good manners dictate that the gifts for a canceled wedding must be returned. I was waiting to see how this would be handled.
I soon got an email from the store at which the bride was registered. It stated: “We are in the process of getting all gifts back from the bride, but we have been asked by the bride’s mother to give all purchasers a store credit. You can call us the next time you need a gift for anyone. ... We can access any major department store registry and typically save you 20 percent from the department store prices on most major brands. We also have over 50,000 items on our own website.”
I’m not sure how I should react to this information, but I do know I am offended. Is this an acceptable way to return a gift? I feel that the mother preempted my decision about what to do with the returned present, but maybe I should just be thankful that I am receiving something back. After all, the bride could have kept all the gifts.
Gentle reader: It hardly seems better that they are, instead, being held on consignment. Perhaps with the notion that it would be convenient for all, this woman has forced her guests into the unpleasant position of having to ask permission for what is rightfully theirs.
If you have the gumption to do so, Miss Manners will allow you to politely decline the offer, saying, “I appreciate the discount, but if you do not mind, I think that we will go through the trouble of returning the silver water filter ourselves.”
Dear Miss Manners: We have some relatives who enjoy sharing pictures of their travels. Instead of a slideshow after coming home, they text pictures of themselves or what they’re seeing to a group of a halfdozen relatives throughout the trip.
In the last day, I’ve received 10 pictures, along with all the commentary from everyone else in the group thread. I have to admit that a selfie of them on an airplane and several people responding, “Aww!” doesn’t particularly interest me and disrupts my day.
I’m happy that they are enjoying their vacation, but I’d be happier if they enjoyed it on their own. Is there a polite way to ask them not to send me pictures? I’d be willing to sit through a slideshow once they return; it’s the constant texts that I object to.
Gentle reader: Perhaps you do not remember the time when it was a common form of torture to make others sit through home movies. Otherwise normal people, with nothing but goodwill in their hearts, would lure their unsuspecting relatives and friends to a purported social gathering, then dim the lights and make them watch films of their holidays and their children’s birthday parties.
There was no escape. Even dozing off in the dark was difficult, because the films were accompanied by equally soporific narrations to which audience re- sponses were sought:
“Here we are in the main square — honey, do you remember whose statue that is? Help me, someone; he’s one of their national heroes. Anyway, it was festival time, and if it hadn’t been raining, you’d be able to see everybody out there celebrating. You really should go there sometime. I forgot — you have a beach house, don’t you? But you should also travel; there’s nothing like seeing different cultures
Or, “This is so cute: It’s Teddy’s birthday, so of course he thinks the cake is just for him, but Jenny thinks because she’s older, he needs her help to blow out the candles. But the funny thing is that on her birthday, which we’ll show you next, he thinks it’s OK for him to help her open her presents! And of course she doesn’t like it any better ...”
Surely you do not want that sort of entertainment back. Miss Manners will try to show you that while such barrages of texted pictures annoy you, the method has its advantages:
You don’t have to look at them on the way to the Delete key, because the photographer is not watching you. You don’t have to hit Like, which would hardly be noticeable anyway, among the others on the thread who are admiring one another.
All you have to do is to say, on the travelers’ return, “Seemed like a great trip.” You could have concluded that from the mere volume of the texts, and anyway, no one is going to quiz you on the content. To send a question to the Miss Manners team of Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin, go to missmanners .com or write them c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.