The Washington Post

Is it okay to start cleaning with guest present, even if it’s really late?

- JUDITH MARTIN, JACOBINA MARTIN AND NICHOLAS IVOR MARTIN New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washington­ You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanner­ You can also follow her @Realmissma­nn

Dear Miss Manners: Is it rude to straighten the kitchen and other areas of my home while my friends slowly prepare to take their leave at a very late hour?

Isn’t that your intention? Having decided that it would be too blatant to say, “That’s enough, I’m tired, please go home,” you suggest a more subtle way of conveying the message.

Miss Manners sympathize­s. But a gracious hostess does not act as if guests have already left. Instead, you should try standing up, saying how much you enjoyed their visit, and companiona­bly walking them to the door.

Dear Miss Manners: A friend with whom I socialize frequently when we’re in the same state invited me to her birthday party at a resort. I accepted and planned to attend. A few months before the event, we spoke on the phone, and I said how excited I was to attend her party. At that, the friend said, “Oh, no! We’ve decided on a home renovation project instead.” I agreed that was a better use of money than paying for a party.

Then, months later, I was told that the party had indeed taken place as planned. I also saw a group picture from the event.

I’m unsure of how to address this with my friend. I don’t want to pretend I don’t know that I was uninvited from her party, or that my feelings aren’t hurt. What would Miss Manners do?

Assume that the original party was canceled, and that the subsequent one was reinvented in a different form for a smaller group. But that takes a mighty lot of assuming. It is hard to assume the best of one’s friends when they flaunt evidence.

There was always a rule against talking about one's social events with people who were not invited. Now, everyone wants to tell the world about them, and of course this includes the excluded.

In ordinary cases, you should merely accept the fact that you will not be invited to everything. But Miss Manners would not blame you for casually revisiting the matter of that home renovation project, which understand­ably took precedence over the party, and to ask whether it was completed.

Dear Miss Manners: I fell on the ice, broke my shoulder and am mostly bedridden. My good friends have really stepped up, bringing me food, flowers and trashy magazines to enjoy.

Each of them has said, “Now, don’t send me a thank-you note.” Do I honor their request, even if it feels ill-mannered?

No. You send thanks because you feel gratitude, which is not a chore from which your friends can relieve you.

Generosity and gratitude are indissolub­ly linked. The former will not continue indefinite­ly without the latter, as Miss Manners keeps hearing from fedup grandparen­ts whose checks go unacknowle­dged.

All your friends have done, with their good intentions, is to make your task harder. Now you have to write that you are so gratified by their kindness that you can’t help defying them and telling them.

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