I'm Tired of Donating to Running/Marathon Fund Raisers
Each week, Miss Manners answers questions exclusivelyfrom the MSN audience on all of your etiquette dilemmas.(Have an issue you want help with? Send in aquestiontoday.) Read on for this week's hot topics:
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
What do you think of all of the recent running fund raisers?
I have several friends who participate in elaborate marathon training programs that culminate in trips around the country, even the world to run a marathon. For each marathon they need to raise money, some of which goes to the trips and trainers and some goes to charity.
I'm tired of donating but wondering if it's just me that thinks its poor manners for my friends to keep hitting me up for these trip/fund raisers.
"You have merely to decline to contribute, while wishing these people luck in their marathons and commending their causes, Still, Miss Manners understands why you feel aggrieved.
It is because much of the charity system is set up to embarrass people into giving, rather than appealing to their better nature, presumably because the latter method seems problematical. The idea is supposed to be that you are ashamed to say no to someone who knows you.
You should not be. That person does not know your responsibilities and your charitable donations elsewhere. You do, and should decide accordingly."
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
I am several months pregnant with my first child. My boyfriend's sister-in-law has insisted on throwing a massive baby shower with no less than 40 guests. She and my boyfriend's mother are pushing me to register.
I cannot think of anything I would like less.
I have tried to explain to his family that I would prefer something modest or nothing at all, as I am German and we don't have baby showers. I also have wonderful, traditional hand-me-downs from my family that have great memories attached to them and I have ordered the other things I need.
My boyfriend and I live in a modest two bedroom apartment because we prefer doing things to having things. His brother and sister-in-law live large and think we are poor because of how we choose to live, and his mother clearly feels the same way.
We have, in fact, done quite well and will be able to retire in our forties if we choose to. We just don't advertise it.
I don't want to reject any kindness from his family and fully intend to include them in our joy, but I am overwhelmed by their desire for more and more things and by their need to push that on us as well.
How can I tactfully let them know that we have everything we need and would like nothing more than the pleasure of their company? If they feel they must purchase something, perhaps they could find something sentimental which our baby will treasure later in life? I have tried saying it just so to them but they scoff and ask me about colors for the nursery.
"Whether it is because you are a foreigner or just because you are apparently a person of taste, you are able to see objectively what many Americans miss: that the typical American shower has become a vulgar greedfest.
Traditionally, it was an intimate gathering of close friends, featuring amusing token presents. Instead, it is now often given by relatives for a wide circle of people who are expected to furnish serious nursery needs.
Miss Manners commends you for resisting it.
But that is not to say that you must bar the baby's family from celebrating and contributing. You have already made sensible, tactful suggestions. It is time for the baby's father to insist that both of you, although grateful for the thought, are quite serious that you would enjoy only a small family gathering."
Judith Martin's latest book is No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice. She is also the author ofMiss Manners' Guide toExcruciatingly Correct Behavior(Freshly Updated). She and her husband, a scientist and playwright, live in Washington, D.C. Theyhave two perfect children, of course.
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