Bad Advice On Dining Tables And Grieving Parents

By The Bad Advisor

Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“Dear Miss Manners: I have a shared living room/dining space, and a separate breakfast table off my kitchen. However, my formal dining table is always set, but rarely used.

I was always taught to never seat yourselves at a formally set table if the meal is not being served there. Every Christmas, I elaborately decorate this table with fancy china, glassware and fragile decorations, only to have guests pull out a chair and put down their libations, keys, etc.

Is it proper for guests to sit there?”
-From “Miss Manners,” Washington Post, 18 December 2016

Gentle Reader,

Dining tables are no more for dining than chairs are for sitting; where did you find these ignorant cretins who see an elaborately arranged, seasonally themed table setting before them at a seasonal eating- and drinking-related social event and presume to use it? Did you head out to your local barn and round up the first five yokels most likely to see a dinner plate and expect, of all things, to eat off of it?

Dining tables are no more for dining than chairs are for sitting.

It is a shockingly improper breach of etiquette, not to mention unfathomably stupid, for guests to whom you intend to serve food and beverages to sit at a table elaborately prepared for food and beverage service as if they’re about to partake in the food and beverage service that they have been specifically told to anticipate. It is indeed downright presumptive for these untrustworthy scoundrels, whom you have invited inside your home as an act of unparalleled generosity, to assume that they can just waltz in and make themselves comfortable next to the exhaustive collection of glass kewpie Santas for which formal dining tables were intended.

“DEAR ABBY: I recently went to a funeral viewing for a friend’s adult child whom I had never met. After entering the funeral home, I saw a computer-generated sign stating, “Please understand that we (mom, dad, brother and daughter) just couldn’t be here.”

Abby, I wasn’t there to see the deceased; I was there to express my sympathy to the family. Why bother to have a viewing? All I wanted to say was how sorry I am for their loss.”
-From “Karen in Pennsylvania” via “Dear Abby,” 27 December 2016

Dear Karen in Pennsylvania,

More like “carin’” in Pennsylvania, am I right? Here you are trying to do some people a solid by providing for them what any grieving parents need most — a chance to interact with you following the death of their child — and they go and throw it away without so much as a handwritten apology. Now, you’ve been deprived of the opportunity to be seen expressing your heartfelt condolences (which is to say, the world’s most heartfelt condolences) due to the thoughtless behavior of your recently bereaved friends, who prioritized their own needs and abilities over making sure they were available to make people their dead child had never met feel good about showing up to a funeral home for a few minutes.

Here you are trying to provide what grieving parents need most — a chance to interact with you.

Your so-called “friends’” selfish preoccupation with their own physical and psychological needs following the fresh horror of their child’s death resulted in the cruel denial of one of life’s simplest pleasures: The moment you get to look someone in the eye and tell them you are sorry that their boring dead kid, who you could care less about seeing, is dead. This family has the rest of their lives to grieve the loss of their loved one, who after all isn’t going to be getting any less dead any time soon, but you had one chance — and only one chance — to express your sympathy. And what did they do? They took that opportunity away from you, the scumbags, with a computer-generated sign.

And that’s what stings the most, isn’t it? The impersonal way this family failed to accommodate the funereal preferences of a woman who had never met their dead child. Now these thoughtless jerks will never know their real loss: that of your approval for their grieving process.

These jerks will never know their real loss: that of your approval for their grieving process.
“Dear Miss Manners: What is the importance of thank-you notes?”
-From “Miss Manners,” Washington Post, 27 December 2016

Gentle Reader,

Without them, hateful grandmas cruelly close the money spout to which her generational offspring are entitled by sole virtue of the fact that they share her DNA.

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