small village scene

Letters about Miscellaneous Topics

Letters About Miscellaneous Things

Topic: To Tell or Not

UJ Wrote:

Is it inappropriate, illegal, unadvisable, or wrong to inform a prestigious company that they employ someone who is an outlaw, or on drugs, or in trouble with the law, if the company is under the impression that their employee is on the up and up?

B Responded:

If it will save the world, better mankind, or keep a child from harm, then the idea of informing the company might be worth considering. It is extremely important for you to correctly identify and examine what your motivation, ill will and objectives are before doing or considering anything.

Miscellaneous Questions

Topic: Thoughtless Gifts

TG Wrote:

My family never gives extravagant gifts to one another at special occasions or holidays; however, my sister-in-law's gifts have reached a new all-time low.

Last Christmas she gave my parents, her in-laws, a check for the first payment of a loan to her and her husband from six-months before. Her gift to my family was a set of blank video tapes, so we could tape movies for her from pay channels we receive. Are these thoughtful gifts?

B Responded:

When a person chooses to give a gift to anyone, it is usually something that the gift-giver thinks that person wants or needs. It is, usually, something that is good enough (meaning in quality, price, etc.) to be something the gift-giver himself would find acceptable and want to receive.

Based on the above, my reaction is that your parents did not get a gift at all. I'm sure they were thrilled to receive a payment on the loan they had made. You didn't get a gift either. You were asked 'for a favor' only.

Welcome to Ask Dear B

Topic: Wedding Etiquette

WS Wrote:

I am planning on getting married next year. My fiance and I have decided that we do not want a big wedding. We want only immediate family to attend. My Mother is planning on giving me a bridal shower.

Is it proper to have a bridal shower and invite friends and relatives who are not immediate family? Friends and family that will not be invited to the wedding?

B Responded:

No, it would not. It would give the appearance that you are requesting gifts only. If you plan a private wedding, then it should be private, without making family and friends feel they 'must' give you a gift, but left wondering why they can't attend your wedding.

It is my understanding that invitations to showers are sent after the wedding invitations are mailed. This is because, generally, the people who receive the shower invitations are those who are invited to the wedding.

If friends at work, however, choose to give you a bridal shower, or those who are not expecting a wedding invitation, but just want to do this for you, then you need to show up for that to celebrate and accept their gifts.

My suggestion would be that your Mother should plan to host an evening in your honor, after the wedding, even days or weeks after the wedding, at her home. Those family and friends who didn't get to attend the wedding could be invited. They too can decide for themselves if they want to give and bring a gift. It would give them more options and yet let them know that you do want to share some kind of celebration with them concerning this important event of your life.

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Topic: Hats Off When Saluting Flag?

TM Wrote:

I know a man should remove his hat during the playing of a patriotic song, but does the same go for a woman?

B Responded:

Women do not remove hats. Flags R Us, an online site, states that when saluting the flag "citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to the left shoulder, hand over heart."

village scene

Topic: Where Does B Go For Advice?

CC Wrote:

I'm sure this is a silly question, but since you are so generous to give advice to those who need it, where do you go for advice?

B Responded:

It's not a silly question at all! It's such an appropriate question for me with Mother's Day on its way. Yes, my own Mother is the person I have always sought advice from about everything in my life and the lives of my children.

She is a one-of-a-kind woman that I can't completely tell you about here. A book was written about her, if that helps to give you some idea of the type of person she is, to not only her family, but to everyone who knows her.

She has not had an easy life, yet you would never know it if you met her. She simply 'rose' above it all and became a highly successful person both personally and professionally. She's received more awards for her accomplishments than can be imagined. She's known state-wide and internationally because of the humanitarian work she has done for the last 20 years.

She does her humanitarian work, she says, as repayment for all that has been done for her. She not only has always been there for me, but she has always been correct. Basically, her philosophy is that whatever happens to you, then think of all other options, all of them, and do what is right for you, but never give up!

I have always admired and respected her. I trust her completely and she remains my most trusted advisor. I am very aware that I have been lucky in life to have such a Mother. One who is wise, educated, worldly, and yet so down-to-earth. She has definitely experienced the ups and downs, hard downs, of life, but she simply took what happened to her and never gave up and became a winner in 'life.'

Next, would be my husband. By luck, chance or whatever, I have surrounded myself with people whom I admire, trust and can confide in and who have similar traits.

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Topic: Etiquette And Social Skills

NS Wrote:

My brother-in-law just built a big new home, which included an impressive bar to entertain. We once owned a bar so we gave him some cases of liquor.

After a couple of weeks, then I took a housewarming gift to him. A week later he had a huge housewarming party and we were not invited.

A few weeks after that, then I received an invitation by mail for their 25th Anniversary and Housewarming Party. It said 'BYOB (Bring your own booze) and delicious hors d'oeuvre. It mentioned nothing about gifts, so I assumed we were required to bring one.

I thought it was entirely inappropriate to give YOURSELF an anniversary party or two housewarming parties! Also, I was offended that we were expected to bring our own booze and food!

I think he is showing how cheap he is. My husband thinks his brother is trying to be part of high society and that's how they do it. What do you think?

B Responded:

Acceptable practices for proper etiquette and entertaining are applicable to all and are not based on some social class.

Everyone should be familiar with conventional etiquette but we should place greater importance on the spirit of hospitality. The spirit of hospitality in this invitation is obviously questionable.

A housewarming is given by the people who own the home. It's actually an 'open house' which means they are sort of 'cocktails only' type parties. They are usually personal celebrations for families and good friends. It's usually the first party you give in your new home. After that, you would call all other parties in your new home by some other name.

Aside from birthdays and important professional milestones, there are only two, and perhaps three if you live long enough, anniversaries that it is appropriate to celebrate in large company and that's the 25- and 50-year anniversaries.

It~~is~~customary for the children or relatives to organize the anniversary party, in order to avoid giving the impression of personally soliciting expensive gifts. It's usually a large group because people who have been involved in the couple's life, spanning so many years, are invited to celebrate this occasion.

The BYOB arrangement is usually for those who can't afford to have parties individually. The person bringing the bottle shares it with the host and then takes it home. The host usually supplies everything else.

All this said, your evaluation of this invitation is probably better than mine....I'm confused! Personally, I would be tempted, since they are family, to give them as a Christmas gift a book on etiquette and entertaining.

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Topic: Do You Have To Give Someone A Gift?

AC Wrote:

I have a simple question for you and I hope you can answer it. Is it wrong of my husband and me to 'not' send a gift of money to a couple who is getting married?

Yes, we were invited, but we are not attending the wedding. We know the groom, but not that well. We know his parents only because they are good friends of my husband's parents. My husband's parents say they are very disappointed in us for not giving a money gift. Are we wrong here?

B Responded:

This is a direct quote from "Miss Manners," a guide to excruciatingly correct behavior, and The Ultimate Handbook on Modern Etiquette:

"there is no such thing as an obligatory present"

You do not owe anyone anything just because they are getting married.

It is customary that when you value people enough to want to participate in occasions that are important to them, then you are moved to express this emotion in some tangible form.

If you are not attending anything and you do not value or want to be involved with these people, then you have no obligations. If you do want to attend or be involved with these peoples lives, then you should.

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Topic: Expressing Sorrow By Writing

MN Wrote:

Please advise how to compose a message expressing sorrow and grief to send to a dear old friend whose Mother just recently passed away. Thanks.

B Responded:

You simply need to acknowledge your friend's loss in a personal way by a handwritten note. Just a brief note from the heart, and I feel sure your friend will appreciate whatever you say and from hearing from you at such a time.

Simply write something like 'I am sorry to learn about your sad news. Please accept my deepest sympathy, my dear friend. I will be getting back with you later but wanted you to know that you are in my heart, mind and prayers now.' If you knew the person's Mother, then say something specific about her; if not, then you might say something like you regret never getting to meet or to know the person's Mother.

Just don't forget to call or send another note later, if you say you are going to do that.

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Topic: Keeping Friend's Mother Out

YP Wrote:

My boyfriend's Mother, who I like very much, comes into my house and never knocks, even when she knows someone is home.

One evening my daughter was home alone, and she came in and didn't say a word, just came into the house. She looked into my kitchen cabinets, filled up her water jugs and left. She never knew my daughter was there.

My boyfriend doesn't want to say anything to her because of her age. I don't like this and what can I do?

B Responded:

You could ask her to knock before entering; or post a sign at the door stating that; or, better yet, perhaps, you could ask your family and boyfriend to cooperate by 'locking' the doors when at home alone.

This type of behavior sounds a little like senility but it could just be her normal behavior. I don't know.

If you find it disturbing, then you need to be candid with her first, then 'rally' all to be real troupers at your house to make it where she simply can't get into the house without one of you letting her in. Locking doors, even when home or gone, seems practical today as a security measure in these 'high' crime times.

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Topic: Hostess Gifts

LV Wrote:

I am going to Europe this summer, however, I am going on a limited budget. I will be staying with a dear friend's daughter. My friend will travel with me, but she will stay with her daughter much longer than my two weeks only.

I plan to take them to dinner a couple of times, but other than that, I am uncertain what is appropriate or what I should do as an overnight guest for two weeks. Do I need to get a gift? What kind of gift? Can you help me?

B Responded:

Yes, the responsibilities of a houseguest include, among many things, the showing of appreciation to the host/hostess. Generally, I believe, it is the 'rule of thumb' to do something for each week that you are in the home as a guest, plus sending a handwritten thank you note to the host/hostess soon after returning home.

That something could be a combination of things such as taking a hostess gift to give her upon arrival (something that might contribute to everyone's enjoyment while visiting), and taking the host and her family out to dinner as your guests, plus the thank you note, or dinner one week and a gift upon leaving (after seeing what the colors are in her home and/or what she might need in her home) plus the thank you note.

A gift does not have to be anything expensive. Some of the nicest things I've received were not expensive (e.g., some decorative, but beautiful, paper hand towels for the bathroom; a pretty container full of pecans the guest gathered from a tree in their yard; a plant). You know your budget, so based on that you need to decide which is best for you to do.

Thanks for visiting

Topic: Inherited Gift

LA Wrote:

I inherited my Grandmother's wedding and engagement rings when she passed away. I would like to wear them.

I am not married nor am I engaged. What would be the proper way to go about this? May I wear one or both of them or do you have any suggestions?

B Responded:

To the best of my knowledge it is perfectly correct for you to wear the engagement ring (diamond) on your right hand. If you wear several rings, you could actually wear it on any finger on any hand. If not, then the right hand would be best so as not to give the appearance that you are engaged and unavailable (since you are still looking for Mr. Right).

I've never seen anyone wear a complete set on either hand when not married; however, I have seen others wearing necklaces with both or one on it.

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Topic: Always An Answer?

FC Wrote:

I was wondering if you ever come upon questions you can't answer?

B Responded:

Actually, I do. If it is a personal question, then I try to recommend sites online where that person can get a more qualified answer or I turn to my own family 'village' experts for assistance in answering the question.

If it is a technical question, then I search out those I know to have the answers or I refer the person to those who can and will help them.

Every effort is made by me to display enough wisdom to say 'I don't know' if I don't. I try to be a good neighbor and a friend here. Most want a second opinion and that's what I try to a question?

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Topic: Purse Privacy?

CA Wrote:

My husband thinks that it is okay to go through my purse and take what he wants. He sometimes accidentally takes something important of mine. We have been married about a year.

He feels there should be no secrets between a husband and wife, so going through a purse or wallet is acceptable to him. I don't feel this way. How can I explain this to my husband without starting a disagreement or being rude?

B Responded:

It appears that you are bothered by the loss of privacy period. Being married does not mean that you lose rights to privacy or that common courtesy must be abandoned between you.

Examples of common courtesy include knocking before entering a closed door, not reading someone else's mail, etc. The purse and wallet fall in this category too.

You will have to talk with him about your strong feelings. You could explain to him that if it is important to you, then it should be important to him, too. This might be a good time to talk about common courtesy in your marriage for both of you. You might be surprised to learn that there is something that you do that he prefers you not to do. Now's the time to talk about it all.

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Topic: Friends & Money?

DL Wrote:

I found some things on the internet that I want to order for Christmas. The site only accepts credit cards and I don't have one.

I thought I would ask a friend of mine if she would let me use her card. I could pay her back. My question is how would I go about asking her to do this for me? I'm a little embarrassed but this is the only place I have found these items.

B Responded:

First, I can't imagine any reputable online site, perhaps even a disreputable one, not wanting your money. Each site should have a webmaster or someone or a department to contact should you have questions or problems; if not, then I don't advise doing business with them.

I would write the webmaster or specific department and ask them to help solve your problem. You might also apply for a credit card of your own, order the item, and then cancel the card once you have paid the bill. Credit cards are usually very easy to get, too easy for most.

It's entirely too much to ask of a friend. No friend should be asked to be your banker. It's advisable not to ask more of a friend than you are willing to do for a friend yourself involving anything and to keep money and friends separate.

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Topic: Name Etiquette?

HM Wrote:

A few years ago I changed my name. I did not like my previous name and I wanted a new name to reflect a new me and for spiritual reasons. Most of my family and friends have accepted the name change.

My sister, on the other hand, insists on calling me by my previous name. I don't like it. I have expressed my feelings to her, but she continues to call me by my old name. Is there a name change etiquette?

B Responded:

None that I am aware of. My favorite, Miss Manners, however, suggests that should you be somewhere and she introduces you incorrectly, then you very kindly tell the new person that you are glad to meet them and your name is such and such and say sadly that your poor dear sister can't remember that and/or finds this confusing, even gently patting her hand as if to say poor thing. This should embarrass her enough that she will attempt to call you by the new name and/or introduce you correctly.

I suggest that you also correct her each time when talking with her privately. Perhaps if you can last long enough in doing this, then in time she'll start calling you by your new name just to reduce the interruptions in your private conversations. Just be consistent, firm, and kind and outlast her. I think I just said drive her as crazy, but with kindness, as she is driving you crazy, didn't I?

Thanks for Visiting

Topic: Writing Our Troops

The Ask Dear B site is receiving a large amount of email about addresses for the military. The information below should offer assistance to anyone who wishes to send mail to our soldiers, and their families, during the holidays 1999. Please note that the Ask Dear B site is not affiliated in any official capacity to any of the sites listed and is only disseminating the information in support of the troops and the efforts by the official Dear Abby site.

Online Sites

Support Our Soldiers -

Defense Link -

Addresses for Operation Dear Abby

Europe & SW Asia
Any Service Member
Operation Dear Abby
APO AE 09135

Far East
Any Service Member
Operation Dear Abby
APO AP 96285

Med. Basin
Any Service Member
Operation Dear Abby
FPO AE 09646

Pacific Basin
Any Service Member
Operation Dear Abby
FPO AP 96385

Hope You Find What You Need

Topic: Treat Him Nice!

PM Wrote:

Will you please ask your readers to take a minute to think about how they treat people who are different or unique? These days we seem to care about how we treat those who are disabled or in a minority; however, some of us seem to forget that all people should be treated with kindness, dignity and respect, regardless of who they are or what they do.

My son is an Elvis impersonator. I'm not talking about someone who channels Elvis. I'm talking about a talented singer who works hard at his profession of re-creating the Elvis concert experience. He was even selected to be in a new film on impersonators. You wouldn't believe the way some people treat him in public.

He doesn't walk around in a jumpsuit, but he must look the part with black hair and sideburns. It amazes and upsets me how rude and insensitive people can be with their smart remarks. If they stopped to think for a minute about the Golden Rule, about choosing to build up rather than tear down those around them, then we might have a little more kindness in the world.

Elvis was known for his kindness to strangers and I think we could all take a lesson from him.

B Responded:

I certainly will, but I don't think I could ever say it any better than you have. Thanks for the letter and reminder.

You are a wonderful lady and obviously a wonderful Mother. Your son is lucky for many, many reasons.

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Topic: Friendship Limits?

EJ Wrote:

I have a friend of many years who lives in another state. She is a very depressed person, drinks a lot, and then calls me and talks for hours. She sometimes calls twice a week. She doesn't work, but I do.

I'm to the point of where I am afraid to answer my phone for fear it will be her. I don't want to ruin a friendship, but I can't sit on the phone half the night, continue listening to her babble and feel sorry for herself either. Do you have any advice as to how I can remedy this problem?

B Responded:

Friendship is being there when the friend needs you and showing some understanding; however, it goes both ways. It isn't part of a friendship to wear the friend out and down or to be rude to that friend. It is not too much for you to expect her to realize that you have a life yourself and can't spend all your time on the telephone with her.

It may be worth the investment on your part to get a Caller ID for your telephone. That way you would know who is calling before answering. If that isn't a possibility, then you may have to simply state that you are too busy to talk right now when she calls, being firm but kind, with no explanations or apologizes necessary, actually.

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Topic: Forgotten Parent?

PS Wrote:

My family and children never send me a birthday card or Christmas card. My own Mother says she can't afford to call me or come to visit me. She forgets my birthday too.

It seems to be okay if I spend my money and time on them. What can I do?

B Responded:

There seems to be a need to simply be open and honest with Mother and all. You need to tell them that they are your cherished loved ones and you need them to do this for you. Stop being nice about it and let them know how you feel and how important this is to you.

About two weeks before your birthday, simply start reminding them that your birthday is coming up. Do it nicely, but do it. Apply the pressure and see if it helps.

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Topic: Party Responses?

NJ Wrote:

What is your opinion of someone that doesn't respond to an invitation to a child's birthday party? I saw this Mother and she said they would be attending, but her child did not come and I didn't receive a call to say she wouldn't be attending.

I can't find any rules of etiquette on responding to invitations. I'd love to see the rules so I could send them to this Mother. I believe she needs help. What's your opinion?

B Responded:

You may be surprised, but I think it would be extremely rude of you to do such a thing. It is not appropriate for you to send her anything.

A good book about etiquette can be found at this site in the "Shop" section from Amazon.Com. You can't make others be considerate and/or make them have good manners. You can be considerate and have good manners yourself. It is good manners not to correct others for their bad manners.

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