Life Advice



Bailing On Gatherings During Pandemic Made Me The Bad Guy

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

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.


swipe to next page



Dan Wasserman Sarah's Scribbles Carpe Diem Signe Wilkinson Darrin Bell Mike Du Jour