Q I’m going to be a camp counselor this summer and just found out that someone who is in a few of my classes at school will be working at the same camp. We’ve never spoken to each other — should I say hi when we start working?
A Of course! You now have two things in common, shared classes and a summer job. By all means take the initiative and go over to her and say, “Sarah, hi! I’m Jane Hanson — we’ve been in English and calculus together all year and never even spoken so it’s great we’ll be working here together.” And then ask a question — like, “Have you ever been a counselor before?” or “which group are you counseling?” to give her a chance to say something beside “hi” back to you.
Q Our daughter’s Bat Mitzvah is in the planning stages, and we have a lot of way-out-of-town family and friends, like 700 miles away, who most likely can’t attend. We don’t want to insult them by not inviting them, but if we do send them an invitation, they would probably feel obligated to send a gift and we don’t want that. How do we handle this?
A You need to stop feeling as though they would be insulted if they found out about your daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and weren’t invited. If the distance is far and it would be difficult and expensive for them to attend, simply do not invite them. No one is insulted not to be invited to an event they really can’t get to easily, and if you send them an invitation, they will feel as though they have to send a gift, even though they can’t attend.
Q We always say grace before every meal, but when we have company for dinner, my wife always says, “Who would like to say grace?” No one responds and everyone feels uncomfortable, so I usually say it. I have suggested to her that this is not a good thing to do, because guests aren’t prepared, and that she should just say it. She says it is courteous to ask. Who is right?
A You are. If that is your practice, she should simply say, “Let’s take a moment to say grace,” and then say it herself, or say, “Bob is going to say grace, now,” and you say it. Even if your guests say grace at home, it puts them on the spot to be asked to think of what to say when they aren’t prepared.
Q We’re planning a 50th anniversary party for our parents. How far in advance should the invitations be sent?
A Usually, invitations are sent four to six weeks in advance of the date that you need to have a head count for planning or for a caterer or restaurant. Give yourself two extra days to call those who don’t respond, and there, sadly, will be some who don’t.
Questions for Catherine? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org