May 30, 2024
Plus: I reconnected with my friend and then I remembered why I had ditched her.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the etiquette of maintaining anonymity when making financial donations? Should a polite donor always check the “I prefer to remain anonymous” box?

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Miss Manners: We cleared dinner, and then this guest walked in

I was surprised to see a packet from my children’s school arrive in the mail that listed the names of parents who had donated to a fund and the amount they had contributed. Is this tacky, or a smart fundraising tactic?

GENTLE READER: Both.

Miss Manners understands that many people want their contributions to be publicly recognized, and that listing the amounts given could encourage competition that benefits the recipient organization.

But she cannot help noticing that feeling spurred on to be competitive in this manner is — well, better than competing by lavishing showy and expensive things upon oneself, but still not quite nice.

One should assume that people give what they can manage. Comparing amounts could cause embarrassment; in a school, where the children could see these figures, it is particularly unfortunate.

Those who only want to support the cause are inadvertently drawn into this competition. Unless they choose to donate anonymously.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have reconnected with a friend from my past. We had a minor falling out and hadn’t spoken in almost three years. We both now agree that the disagreement was petty.

Unfortunately, I soon remembered that it wasn’t the disagreement that made us stop talking.

This woman lives in a beautiful home in a rural setting with no shortage of peace and quiet, plus she is beautiful herself, and yet she cannot find anything pleasant to say about anything.

She screams at her pets like they are people who’ve cut her off in traffic. She is not familiar with anything technological, so she has a negative opinion of all the apps she downloads because she doesn’t know how they work. She gripes even when you offer to fix something or explain something to her.

There is no pleasing her. Our reunion basically turned into an entire evening of trying to get her to see what she had to be grateful for, since she couldn’t, and then trying to gracefully make my exit without her further berating herself.

I do care about her feelings, but the entire night can’t just be negativity. I mean, if you drove an hour to see someone you hadn’t seen in three years, would you want to subject yourself to this mood-kill?

What should I say to her? By the way, every suggestion for professional help results in her whining about money.

GENTLE READER: That people want to be helpful to others, especially old friends — but even to strangers — Miss Manners appreciates. Nevertheless, it causes a lot of trouble, especially in the form of unsolicited advice, and has a low success rate.

She assures you that you do not need to — nor can you — cure this person of her unpleasantness and negativity. Rather, you might redirect to yourself that question about who would want to be subjected to such company.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When do the parents of the groom give their gift to the wedding couple? Before, during or after the wedding?

GENTLE READER: Not during! They are busy getting married, for heaven’s sake. Miss Manners would think that any other time should be acceptable.

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

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