Accepting Small Gift To Stop The 'thank You' Cycle
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I had the pleasure of babysitting my neighbors' small dog for the weekend. When they returned, they tried to pay me. I politely turned down the money, saying that it was truly my pleasure and it was a favor between friends.
Later that week, I received a thank-you card in the mail that included a gift certificate. I accepted it and thanked them in person for their gesture.
In your opinion, did I handle the situation properly? On the one hand, after turning down cash, I feel a bit hypocritical accepting the gift card. On the other hand, I feel it would be rude to return their gift after all the trouble they went to.
Also, after thanking them in person, do you feel I should have followed up with a written thank-you?
GENTLE READER: Clearly these transactions were going to continue until you accepted something -- and rather than holding out for a watch, you did the right thing by politely conceding. Your in-person thanks was sufficient, Miss Manners assures you.
However, if you are determined to avoid thanks like this again, you might suggest offering to reciprocate in kind, rather than by monetary means. I sincerely enjoy watching Peepers, and the pleasure of his company is thanks enough. But if it would make you feel better, I would be so grateful if you could look after Prickles the Cactus next time I'm on vacation. She does get so sad and parched when I leave.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I lost my beloved sister two years ago to ovarian cancer. Her only child, who came out his freshman year in college, is in a very loving relationship with a wonderful man. They are soon to be married, and of course the family is invited to the wedding, which will be in Washington, D.C.
My husband said at the outset of the relationship that he would never attend a gay wedding because he feels it is not a real marriage. I have no qualms about it; to me, it's all about love. He now says he doesn't want me to go because D.C. is a dangerous place.
I feel I should do what I want to do, which is go to this wedding; on the other hand, he will make my life miserable about it for a long time. We have been married for 40 years and he has always pretty much had the last word on everything, but I know I will resent him if I don't go.
GENTLE READER: It seems to Miss Manners that either way, there will be resentment. It is unfortunately up to you which form of it is more tolerable.
Miss Manners certainly does not wish to put further strain on your marriage, but she will point out two things: Not going to the wedding may well cause a rift between you and the rest of your family. And as a native and resident of Washington, D.C., herself, she assures you that it is infinitely less dangerous than prejudice and intolerance.
(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.)
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