Dear Carson: How long does one fly the flag at half-staff after the death of a current or former president? - Patriotic Protocol
Dear Patriotic: We honor a president after his death by flying the flag at half-staff for 30 days.
Dear Carson: My wife is from Los Angeles, and I am from Atlanta. My grandfather passed away and we will all attend the funeral in rural Alabama. My wife asked whether she could wear a red dress to the funeral. I stated that this would not go over very well, even though it was Christmastime. Am I right on this issue? - Advice on Attire
Dear Attire: I agree with you in that it would not have gone over very well, especially in the Deep South and even more so in the rural South. Of course, there are different customs that are observed in various places.
Dear Carson: I have a couple of nephews to whom I never fail to give Christmas and birthday presents. There are some who never acknowledge my gifts, but there are others who never fail to do so.
This ungratefulness has increasingly gotten under my skin. It feels so nitpicky to call and ask whether they received my gifts because I know full well that they did. Last year, I decided to make a donation to a favorite charity in their name. What do you think? - Annoyed Aunt
Dear Aunt: Hooray for you! What an excellent response this is and if they stop to think about it, perhaps they will realize they were remiss in not thanking you. This is another example of the malaise of entitlement that pervades our society. Within a family, it really means a lot if you telephone or e-mail your thanks.
Dear Carson: I read your column every week and have picked up many helpful hints for proper etiquette. One common-sense issue that I have seen addressed is a person's inability to remember which bread plate and beverage glass belongs to him or her at a crowded table.
In the past, I had trouble remembering until I learned this quick trick. If you make the "OK" sign with your thumbs and first fingers of each hand, the left hand will form a "b" and the right hand will form a "d". This means that bread belongs on the left and drink belongs on the right. I hope you can use this for your readers. - Table Setting Tip
Dear Setting: I tried this, and it does work. In seminars on dining etiquette, I explain that everything that is yours to eat is above your forks and everything that is yours to drink is above your knife. I like yours even better and am most appreciative. I learn so much from my readers.
CONFIDENTIAL to "Made a mistake in the past," who is worried that his girlfriend will leave after he behaved badly: I really do not give advice to the lovelorn, but admit your mistake and mend your ways.
Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send e-mail to AskCarson@comcast.net. Carson Elliott's Web site is www.theproperthing.com.