Wed­ding can­celed — re­turn of gifts not so smooth ei­ther

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Advice -

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.

Ju­dith Martin

Miss Man­ners

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