Miss Manners: Don’t assume you’ll be given leftovers
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m invited to Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws of my daughter. Is it rude to take my own to-go container to bring home leftovers?
GENTLE READER: And a burlap bag in which to take home the silverware when they are finished using it?
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DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am hoping you could settle a minor matter regarding the proper way of drinking tea.
When one is holding a teacup, is it proper to relax your fingers while holding the cup handle, or should you raise your pinkie finger in a curled position? I was told that the latter was pretentious.
I therefore simply hold the handle between my thumb and forefinger and relax the other three digits next to them. Would the queen approve?
GENTLE READER: If you are referring to the queen of England, let us not bother her. She has enough family troubles.
The raised pinkie was a precaution when tea-drinking first spread to Europe from China, because it was drunk from thin Chinese handle-less cups that held the heat and therefore needed to be gripped with as few fingers as possible.
Tea was extremely expensive then — silver tea caddies came with locks — so the gesture became associated with the rich. And pretentiousness has always been associated with the rich, although Miss Manners has also noticed examples elsewhere.
When tea came down in price, and some genius thought of putting handles on teacups, the pinkie gesture became obsolete. But to Miss Manners’ amusement, the gesture has lasted for centuries as a sign of how ridiculous the rich are.
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DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would appreciate your point of view on when Christmas decorations should begin appearing in front yards.
I grew up with an unwritten rule that you do not put anything out until the Friday after Thanksgiving. With “holiday creep” continually pushing retailers to put Halloween items out in August, I am appalled that my neighbors began setting up their Christmas decorations the first weekend of November.
I want to give them a friendly note to wait until a more appropriate time. At this point, I’m subjected to three months, versus two, of their display, and it encroaches on my Thanksgiving. Grrrrrr.
GENTLE READER: The thing to remember about neighbors is that they know where you live. Therefore, you should confine your growling to matters of greater consequence.
But yes, Miss Manners agrees that one holiday should be celebrated at a time.
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DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is a polite response when a person acknowledges, and apologizes for, having caused a huge inconvenience?
My gut response was an honest but inappropriate, “Yes, you DID delay the (human) pharmacy line for an additional 20 minutes and involve both clerks with your unending questions about cat laxatives. I am glad you acknowledge that. Don’t do it again!”
What I actually said was, “No problem — don’t worry about it.” But I didn’t mean it: It was a problem, and I was plenty steamed.
I am sure there must be a way to acknowledge an apology without indicating that everything is hunky-dory, but I can’t think of it without devolving into snark.
GENTLE READER: Surely there is enough snark around that it should be avoided. Miss Manners believes that the phrase you need is, “I appreciate your apologizing.”
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.