Your Christmas Etiquette Advisor

Fending off unwanted advances beneath the mistletoe?  Wondering whether you can re-gift that chafing dish you got for your second marriage?  Ask Ms. Christmas Etiquette Advisor–she always minds her manners!

Dear Christmas Etiquette Advisor:

Christmas is always such a harried season, and today I made a terrible mistake that may cause us to lose face in the upscale suburb where we live.  I needed to drop off our expensive family photo Christmas cards at the post office, and to return my book-on-tape at the public library.  In my haste, I accidentally dropped off our Christmas cards at the library, and “Love’s Tortured Yearnings” at the post office.  The dingbat librarians won’t let me go through the book return due to “chain-of-custody” rules they must observe in order to assess library fines, so now I will have to go buy cheap substitute cards and start all over.  Is there a graceful way to say “I didn’t mean to slight you with this terribly down-market greeting card from Wal-Mart”–our application to join the country club is pending this spring.

Mrs. Veronica Taussig, Wellesley Hills, Mass.

Dear Veronica–

Your little “miscue” has apparently caused your self-esteem to plummet.  What you wrote would be perfectly acceptable in all but the most snobbish–wait a minute, I just noticed your address.  In India, this is referred to as “loss of caste,” but think of all the money you’ll save on application fees to Ivy League colleges!

The Postmaster General will be in touch regarding your transmission of obscene materials through the mail.


“Come on, Sholom–loosen up!”

Dear Christmas Etiquette Advisor:

“Diversity” has finally come to our little town as we have hired several “ethnic” types this year, including a very nice Jewish man.  All well and good, but this is a workplace “minefield” since our Christmas Party is this week and we are working overtime trying to come up with inoffensive small talk.  Are there flash cards or other study aids to help us get through this event without getting sued?

Sue Ellen Turbot, Director of Human Resources, Bag-Nap Snap Ties, Kalispell, Montana

Sue Ellen–

Yours is a very tricky situation, as the Jewish people have both “happy” and “sad” holidays.  Most of us “goyim” (what they call us behind our backs) don’t know the difference, as I once found out when I innocently said “Happy Yom Kippur” to our accountant.

Thankfully, Hanukkah is one of their joyful occasions, so you should be safe keeping things light and pleasant with questions like “Say–you people control the weather, are we going to have a White Christmas or what?”

Dear Christmas Etiquette Advisor–

I am involved in a dispute with our new next door neighbor “Chuck” who put up a gaudy Christmas display this year.  I just came back from the doctor who says I have cancer of the armpit, which I did not have last year.

Ms. Christmas Etiquette Advisor, I have read stories about people getting sick from electro-magnetic fields generated by power lines, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the Santa and his elves and the eight reindeer and the Christmas creche including wise men this dingbat put up is to blame for my illness.

Is there any class action going on about this where I could file a claim and not have to pay a lawyer?  They have them for everything from Cheez-Its to Milli Vanilli, whatever that is, so I figure I might have a shot.

Earl Furlong, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Dear Earl–

Electricity is our friend–remember, it toasts your English muffin every morning–so I’m going to side with “Chuck” on this one.  The jury is still “out” on the issue of whether power lines cause cancer, and I don’t think you should spoil anyone’s holiday by making a questionable “junk science” deathbed self-diagnosis.

I know I’m going to get a lot of nasty letters from “environmentalists” over this answer, but they’ve been saying the world’s going to end since the ’70’s and it hasn’t yet, so sit back and enjoy the season of lights and leave the damage claims to your heirs.

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