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Sibling Doesn't Get Corresponding 'unbirthday' Gift

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We mailed a birthday gift to our granddaughter, and our daughter arranged a video call to let us see her open the present.

To our surprise, our daughter admonished us for not sending a gift to our grandson so he would not feel left out. She stated it was proper gift-giving etiquette to send a gift to our grandson, even though his birthday is in June.

She said this to us in front of her husband and our granddaughter. This was embarrassing to my wife and myself.

We have never heard of this etiquette rule. Was our daughter correct? We love our grandchildren very much, and it was our belief that we did the right thing.

GENTLE READER: Your grandson will be sorely disappointed when his sister receives an Olympic gold medal one day and he is not automatically issued the silver.

Your daughter is subscribing to the idea that no child should be trusted to tolerate another's milestones, success or good fortune without receiving similar compensation. But how else will they be taught the valuable life skill of knowing that everything is not about them?

Miss Manners assures you that you did the right thing. You may tell your daughter that your grandson's present is certainly forthcoming -- in June, when it is his birthday, and not his sister's.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would appreciate your advice in navigating a difficult situation. My husband's niece, Anna, and her fiance, Greg, were planning to marry this year, but the pandemic prompted them to wait. About two months ago, Greg was diagnosed with terminal cancer and they began planning a more immediate wedding.

Then Greg took a turn for the worse, and hospice care was arranged in their home. They moved the wedding up to Friday, and they were married. Sadly, Greg died a few hours later.

 

Should we give Anna a gift of some sort in honor of her marriage? A wedding gift seems bizarre under the circumstances. My idea is to get her a beautiful picture frame, possibly sterling silver, and include a handwritten letter on my good stationery.

Perhaps you have a better idea. Please steer me in the right direction regarding a gift, how it should be wrapped, when it should be delivered, what phrasing I should use in my letter, etc.

GENTLE READER: A silver picture frame, wrapped in subdued colors, accompanying your condolence letter sounds lovely. You can reference the wedding only to say that it was beautiful -- or that you heard it was, if you were not in attendance -- and how sorry you are not to have gotten to know Greg better as a family member.

Miss Manners agrees with your impulse to downplay the wedding part, but your niece clearly meant to forever link the two events. You would do well to similarly, if delicately, acknowledge their bittersweet bond.

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(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.)

COPYRIGHT 2021 JUDITH MARTIN

DISTRIBUTED BY ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

COPYRIGHT 2021 JUDITH MARTIN
 

 

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