DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper way for a sibling to ask other siblings to contribute to a joint gift for a parent? Should one call another and ask if they would like to participate, stating the cost of doing so? Or should they all decide if they want to buy a joint gift, with each person contributing what he or she can afford and feels is appropriate, and then all make the decision of what to buy?
GENTLE READER: The worst present children can give their parents is a sibling quarrel. This is the inevitable result when the richer child says to the poorer child, "Let's get Mommy and Daddy a car and each pay half," or the struggling one says to the one who has arrived, "I think we should send them on a cruise - you can afford to pay for the fare, and I'll pay the tips."The proper procedure is for the organizer to poll the others as to whether they would like to go in together on a present and, if the answer is yes, what they think is both reasonable and appropriate. Although it is generous for some children to give more because they can afford to, it is prudent, even in the best-behaved families, to select something not obviously outside anyone's range, so that it has the genuine appearance of a joint present, even if some siblings contributed more than others.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I attended a wedding where the photographer roamed all over the sanctuary taking photos during the entire service, including the vows and the prayers, and in addition, at least eight members of the congregation were taking photos or videotaping the service.
I was quite disturbed. It detracted from the sanctity of the service and was distracting as we tried to listen. Am I right in thinking that cameras have no place in a wedding service?
I understand the bride had to sign a contract saying there would be no videotaping in the church. How could this be politely communicated to members of the congregation? Would it be appropriate to put a note in the invitation or in each pew?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners hopes the bridal couple will enjoy the eventual film festival resulting from staging this event, so that they will consider it worthwhile to have sacrificed the dignity of their wedding in order to produce it.
Unfortunately, it is a dictate of good manners not to assume the worst of one's guests, and therefore one cannot put restrictions ("No spitting," "No catcalls") on the invitation.
When offensive behavior does occur, the ushers should very quietly and discreetly step forward, tap the offender's elbow, and whisper, "I'm sorry - that is not allowed." It is a shame to have to employ ushers of an honorary nature as if they were movie-theater ushers taxed with preventing mayhem, but it seems to be necessary in this case.