Dear Carson: On Aug. 2, my son and his sweetheart became engaged. My question concerns who first contacts the other parents. My mother taught me that the first move is from the groom's parents. Is that still correct? Is a long-distance phone call sufficient?
My son's fiance lives on the east coast and we live on the west coast, but they have visited each other frequently during the past year.
I am divorced and remarried and so is my ex-husband. Do his father and I contact the bride's parents separately or together? Is it best to write a note to her family expressing our happiness? - Complex Communion
Dear CC: Yes, it is still a guideline of etiquette for the groom's parents to first contact the bride's parents. A note expressing your happiness over their daughter entering your family would be my best suggestion. I prefer it over a telephone call (although that also is permissible) as it will make a meaningful keepsake for a wedding album. You and your ex-husband should extend your greetings separately, since you are no longer together.
Dear Carson: I have medical bills and a limited budget. The past couple of years, more and more of my friends are trying to initiate a seemingly expensive habit of buying increasingly costly gifts for Christmas and birthdays. I thought I had made it plain to close friends that I couldn't see the point of showy birthday celebrations and prefer to refrain from such. I was raised in a poor household and we never had that habit. I never even had a birthday cake until I was in my late 20s. I hear enough of what I consider horror stories about the amount and expense of gifts and meals for those set ups.
This year two of my friends made a show, in front of other people, of giving me expensive birthday gifts and of telling me that I deserve such gifts and to just graciously accept and enjoy them. Word has filtered down to me of how two longtime friends are looking forward to what I pick for their birthday gifts because they love my Christmas gifts. Does it sound as though these friends are trying to greedily take advantage of me? What can I say to refuse to start any birthday tradition? - Gift Grouch
Dear GG: Apparently your friends have a lot of disposable income, but little understanding or compassion. No, I don't think they are trying to take advantage of you. However, I suggest continuing the Christmas tradition in your usual way, but sweetly telling them that for birthdays you are sending a card and that you hope they will do the same.
Dear Carson: Are thank you cards or notes required for sympathy cards the family has received? Are notes required for flowers, donations, etc.? - Acknowledgement Answers, Please
Dear Acknowledgement: Written thanks are proper for flowers, food and donations, but not for cards.