Miss Manners: They blame me for their favorite uncle skipping the party

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My partner of 25+ years has a huge local extended family. They regularly and frequently gather for holidays, birthdays and minor celebrations. The celebration population varies from 25-50 people, from infants to septuagenarians.

These celebrations have continued well into the COVID-19 pandemic. No behavior has been modified. No face masks, no social distancing. Potlucks and hugs all around.

I told my partner I am not participating in any future family celebrations until a vaccine is available.

I am now the bad guy. Not only am I “pooping the party,” but I am also holding the family’s favorite uncle hostage. (Staying home with me was his free choice, but he is not happy with my convictions, either.)

I do not wish to offend, but I feel my position holds substantial merit and follows the guidelines and laws of our state and local municipalities. Also, my partner falls into the vulnerable population of potential COVID-19 fatalities.

How to proceed politely to maintain family harmony, both extended and within my own household, without apologizing for upholding the law?

GENTLE READER: You might remind them that the future well-being of their favorite uncle is dependent on his being kept healthy and safe.

But Miss Manners supposes that that will poop on the party, as well. As a compromise, you might promise a blowout party, sometime in the vague future when all of this is over, hosted by you and your partner. In the meantime, you are available for planning and socializing via videoconference. So’s their uncle.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter has a habit of acknowledging my birthday and other holidays with a text in lieu of a card — or, preferably, a phone call.

This year, she sent a “Happy Father’s Day” text, which I did not immediately respond to. After several hours, she sent another text. I don’t want to encourage this type of holiday greeting, as I consider it lazy and disrespectful.

I sent her flowers for both Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, and her acknowledgment came in the form of a thank-you text.

Are we at the point that a text is socially acceptable as a way to say “thank you” for a gift? Do I need to reevaluate how I perceive things? Assuming that it is not an acceptable form of communication, is there a polite way to try to get some sort of upgraded acknowledgment or response?

I’m not particularly happy that I’m writing, and feel like a grouch.

GENTLE READER: If you would like her to communicate, then communicate.

She is your daughter, and it is never too late to parent adult children — particularly in regard to their behavior toward you.

But treating what she may consider a perfectly acceptable greeting with silence, Miss Manners points out, is actually the larger transgression.

If you do not like the method with which she is communicating, tell her. “Texts feel so impersonal. I would love to hear from you. When is a good time to talk on the telephone?”

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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Author: Judith Martin