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Couple can't attend own shower

Dear Miss Manners: I was invited to a shower by a group of the groom's mother's lady friends. Apparently it was close to the "small" wedding (three weeks) and the bride and groom could not be home for the shower, as they both work in a city about five hours away.

The invite said that since the couple was unable to attend, the guests would be honoring the mother of the groom by proxy.

Something old or new? Many of my friends in their 50s thought it was strange. I might add, I know only the groom's mother, but not the couple.

I sent a gift card to a nationally known store for more than I would have spent on a shower gift, as I did not expect to be invited to the "small" wedding. That was immaterial, however, as I am more perplexed by the proxy situation.

Gentle Reader: A shower that the guests of honor claim to be too busy to attend is, indeed, new to Miss Manners.

Unfortunately, schemes to acquire goods without exerting oneself on behalf of the donors is not. Guests are often told to bring or buy their own refreshments and address letters of thanks to themselves -- and that's if they are even invited. The virtual shower, meaning a collection of presents unmarred by socializing, is another modern invention. It would seem sufficient to send one's virtual good wishes.

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All presents require thanks

Dear Miss Manners: When I received a small gift and a thank-you note for a personal service I performed, I was unable to thank the individual in person for the gift and wrote a note. Subsequently I was told that thank-you notes are not required when receiving a thank-you gift. Seems to me, I received a gift and should acknowledge it. Please advise as to the correct procedure.

Gentle Reader: Your instincts are better than your advisers'. Whoever told you that has confused the thank-you present with a thank-you letter alone, which does not require a you're-welcome letter.

Or maybe your friends are just trying to drive Miss Manners crazy with their false etiquette pronouncements. No doubt they are the same people who persuade brides to be rude with the ridiculous claim that a year is allowed them between receiving presents and giving thanks.

All presents require immediate thanks, whatever the motive or occasion that prompted them.

Send questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.