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Ex’s artwork: Does it spark joy?

Houston Chronicle logo Houston Chronicle 6/29/2019 By Judith Martin

Closeup of brush and palette. © Witthaya Prasongsin / Getty Closeup of brush and palette.

Dear Miss Manners:

My ex-boyfriend from 10 years ago made me nine large paintings for a Christmas gift that year. They have no emotional meaning to me anymore, and I am wanting to “clean house” and get rid of them.

However, since they are original pieces of art, made for me as a gift, what is the proper etiquette when getting rid of them? Do I contact my ex-boyfriend and let him know that I am “downsizing,” and ask if he would like them back?

Gentle Reader:

The risk of renewing a 10-year-old parting and rehashing old wounds, it seems to Miss Manners, will likely do more harm than good. Not knowing the gentleman or the nature of the relationship, however, Miss Manners recommends that you have a serious conversation about it — with yourself — and consider whether it will be worth it. Or if perhaps keeping a box of them in the basement for the rest of eternity will end up being the easier option.

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Dear Miss Manners:

A niece on my husband’s side is getting married, and my family (my husband, myself and our two daughters) did not get invited. My husband is understandably upset, since this is his sister’s child.

This is the second niece/nephew getting married when we were not included as guests. Most of his other siblings and families were invited, although another one was left out like us.

I don’t know what to make of this. I’m sure the invitation was not lost in the mail. Should he question his sister as to why we were not included in this family event?

Gentle Reader:

If this were a friend or distant relative, Miss Manners would say no. But if all parties heretofore have behaved reasonably and there is no reason to think that you might be getting deliberately snubbed, then your husband may gently prod his sister, as long as he is assuming the best:

“The family is so excited about Hannah’s wedding, but we are afraid we have not received the invitation. Do you have any idea what might have happened?” is acceptable. “I guess you’re still angry about the time I used your doll as a toilet brush” is not.

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Dear Miss Manners:

Two months ago, my precious 2-day-old granddaughter passed away. It has been an incomprehensible loss.

Well-meaning folks expressed condolences, and then immediately followed with “What happened?” I found it difficult to share my pain wherever I happened to be (i.e., grocery shopping).

What response to their intrusive inquisitiveness should I have given? And what is the proper etiquette for offering a comforting comment, rather than “What happened?”

Gentle Reader:

“I’m so terribly sorry” is the only proper thing to say when hearing devastating news about a death. Miss Manners advises repeating this as necessary, lest the temptation to find out more details overcomes one.

Should that happen, the response, “It was a devastating loss” may also be repeated as many times as necessary until the inquirer gets the idea that no further detail is forthcoming.

Visit Miss Manners at missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

Andrews McMeel Syndication

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