My son is getting married this summer in a pandemic-style wedding with only about 25 close relatives. As I’ve done for my other two children, I’d like to host a shower to welcome my new daughter-in-law into the family and have her meet all my friends. The etiquette books tell me in no uncertain terms that you cannot invite someone to a shower and then not invite them to the actual wedding. Does this rule hold under our present circumstances?
S.S. / Stoneham
Rules and traditions should change as circumstances do, which means asking what purpose they were meant to serve in the first place. The rule you mention exists because it’s unkind and greedy to create a second-class group of people who are good enough to pay tribute in the form of gifts, but not attend the celebration — peasants! But the “shower” you describe is less about gifts than about introducing a new family member. It’s more a show-her than a shower! (Forgive me, for I am weak.)
So why not throw the party after the wedding, in early fall or next summer? Call it a belated reception or a first anniversary party. Right now, your daughter-in-law is up to her ears in wedding details and your friends are in various stages of vaccination, meaning some kind of Zoom or hybrid event with distancing and masking. Better to celebrate in six months or a year, when the gathering can be fun for everyone and serve its intended purpose.
I live in an apartment/condo. My next-door neighbor sometimes yells at me through the wall for closing a cabinet door loudly, so I purchased bumper pads for the inside of my cabinets. Meanwhile, she constantly lets her cabinets close too loudly. I left notes asking her to please close her doors softly and even gave her some bumper pads. She responded with notes stating I am rude and intimidating. I told the condo board she was harassing me and they plan to notify the management company. I will be moving out in the next year. Do I ignore her, yell back, or continue to pursue this issue through official channels?
D.G. / Acton
You know that saying “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (originally written by Scottish minister Ian Maclaren)? That sentiment was created for situations just like this one. It’s been a hard year for all of us. Let it go. Tell the board not to escalate. Ignore her slams and scoldings. You may be in the right, but the stakes here are so very small — an occasional slammed door? Living in an apartment means hearing other people’s business sometimes. You could both make this into a big hairy problem for each other, even one that affects future living prospects. Or you could choose not to. Maybe do that.
To gain some perspective on and personal amusement from the conflict, think about your favorite artists, in any medium. What whodunit podcasts, faux-documentary sitcoms, graphic novels, horror movies, hip-hop musicals would they create about this “Cabinet Battle” (with apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda)?
Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.