Miss Manners: I love writing Christmas cards. Am I inducing guilt in friends who don’t send them?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Over the years, I’ve maintained a special fondness for the act of writing and addressing Christmas cards to about 50 friends (old and new) and family members. I find taking a moment to think of valued relationships, even if only once a year, to be heartwarming and restorative.

However, in recent years, more and more recipients of my cards have let it be known that they no longer engage in the activity. This has raised concerns that, by sending cards to those who don’t do likewise, I may be implying that I expect them to reciprocate. (I don’t!)

Should I take note of people from whom I don’t receive a card and stop sending mine to them?

GENTLE READER: It is not surprising that this way of keeping in touch annually with people whom one might not often see has declined. So many people now make a constant effort to reach everyone they know -- and anyone they don’t know -- that they dismiss this practice as quaint.

Besides, they may maintain that the requirement of writing something out by hand and perhaps even adding a personal comment -- mass-produced cards with printed names do not count -- is an imposition.

So Miss Manners agrees that you should confine your list to those who will appreciate the charm. This group may include people who don’t send Christmas cards themselves but use some other personal way of keeping in occasional touch.

And by that, Miss Manners means something more than sending you their selfies taken on vacation. But you should set your own standard.

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the correct acknowledgment for Christmas cards? I mean the ones where people create cards with family photos. Is acknowledgment required at all? Would a text suffice?

GENTLE READER: “You all look adorable in your matching pajamas, and so does the dog,” along with your good wishes. And yes, if you don’t send cards, Miss Manners will allow you to dispatch the message otherwise.

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DEAR MISS MANNERS: When dining in someone’s home, the food is often served buffet-style so each guest can fill their own dinner plate.

My husband will bypass certain foods because he does not particularly like them. He is not allergic, nor does he find these foods revolting or otherwise distasteful. He just doesn’t enjoy them.

In this situation, I believe one must sample every food the host has thoughtfully prepared -- first, because menu items are chosen because they go well together, and second, because of the considerable time and effort that goes into preparing food.

In my view, it is polite to enjoy the meal as the host intended and compliment accordingly. My husband, on the other hand, thinks there is no such politeness required. He feels he shouldn’t have to put something on his plate unless he likes it.

Please help us resolve this difference of opinion.


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DEAR MISS MANNERS: On wedding invitations, is there a difference between “the pleasure of your company” and “the honor of your presence”?

GENTLE READER: Yes: The latter is used if the ceremony is held in a house of worship; the former if it is held elsewhere.

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