Miss Manners: How do I express gratitude to my friends for their generosity?

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am usually good about thanking people. Now, I am flummoxed. A note or even a gift seems so inadequate for what friends have done for us.

In one case, some friends hosted my husband when he was cleaning out his mother’s house, hours from home. They looked after the mail and even took my mother-in-law to get a COVID vaccination, which took them hours! The friends wouldn’t even take my husband up on his offer to take them out for a meal in return.

Another friend did some professional work for us that I offered to pay for, but was told he doesn’t work that way. (Years later, when we tried to continue the work, we were told he can’t help us, so there may be bad feelings there.)

What do you suggest we do to thank these people who we cannot possibly thank enough?

GENTLE READER: Not thanking someone when no thanks will be enough is a natural reaction -- and one to be avoided at all costs. You may feel overwhelmed by their generosity, but from their point of view, you did not even care enough to acknowledge it.

Tell your friends the truth: that you were overwhelmed by their generosity at the time and cannot ever forget it. And that you feel terrible at having neglected to insist on paying for that professional work and that the very least you can do is to do so now, in addition to apologizing (note how Miss Manners snuck in that second apology).

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: My niece was recently married for the second time, and as she had a formal wedding the first time, she chose to have a small, intimate ceremony in her garden this time. She invited her parents and her brother, but no other family members.


This seems reasonable for a second marriage. However, I found out about her wedding through a neighbor, who saw it online. I called her to congratulate her, and she said that she hoped to have a reception sometime in the future, to which extended family would be invited.

I don’t know what to expect. Should I sign up for the social media platform on which my neighbor saw the news, just in case she announces the reception in the same way she announced the wedding? Is there a kinder way to announce a wedding to which very few were invited, and to extend an invitation to a future reception?

GENTLE READER: The problem with your niece’s modest (and, as both you and Miss Manners agree, praiseworthy) approach to sharing her good news is that it is inconsistent with shouting it from the rooftop. Trust that if, and when, she does throw a reception, she knows where you live.

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I had houseguests wall-to-wall last summer -- some departing and arriving within hours of each other. We were amazed that people who stayed for several days did not offer to take us out to a meal during their visit.

We were constantly hustling chow, taking them to see the sites and providing entertainment. From them -- nada.

Is thanking your hosts with a meal an old-fashioned idea?

GENTLE READER: Apparently, from what Miss Manners hears. But it is still on the books, regardless of the numbers of scofflaws.

Miss Manners | Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Miss Manners, written by Judith Martin and her two perfect children, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Marin, has chronicled the continuous rise and fall of American manners since 1978. Send your questions to