DEAR AMY: I hosted a holiday dinner at my home. My guests included family and close friends.
I set the table with my good china and very expensive crystal. During the course of the dinner, when a piece of crystal knocked over on the table but didn’t break, I jokingly said, “Be careful with the crystal. You break, you pay!” but immediately said I was kidding.
The table guests exploded with comments. Two of my guests stated that if they accidentally broke the crystal, they wouldn’t feel it was their responsibility to offer to replace the broken crystal, because it was my choice to set the table with it.
I was horrified by their comments. My response was that I would never expect someone to pay for the crystal, but I would be offended if they didn’t offer.
The crystal replacement per glass was $200. The guests were well aware of the cost, as it was part of the conversation. The rest agreed with my comment.
What is the proper etiquette in this situation?
I have been really bothered by their flippant response. I won’t be setting my crystal out anymore for those guests!
DEAR CRYSTALIZED: When you’re a guest in someone’s home and break something that belongs to the host, I agree that it is polite to offer to replace the item. And yes, it is also polite for the host to refuse the offer. This is graciousness flowing in both directions.
But — what if there is no obvious fault to be found? What if the crystal glass is tipped over by a serving dish being passed from one guest to another? Would your gathering then turn into a fault-finding party, in order to sniff out who should disingenuously offer to pay for the item?
I honestly think you missed the politeness mark by a mile when, in the moment, you introduced the concept of “you break it, you bought it,” and then were further “offended” by the lively discussion that followed.
It is truly a joy to entertain using your best things. But when you do so, you assume the risk associated with using these items. If you don’t want to assume the risk, then yes — leave these precious things in the cabinet.
Things are things, and can be replaced. People? Not so much.
DEAR AMY: Recently, I connected with a cousin whom I admire for living a life on his terms — he’s a logger with his own logging company — even though I don’t agree or champion deforestation of any kind, and live in a house and have furniture made from wood.
However, he’s also a hunter. He recently posted a picture of the bear he shot, with his gun laying on top of the bear.
I am opposed to hunting of any kind. I don’t eat meat, but I don’t get on my soapbox about it; I keep quiet, believing that everyone makes their own choices based on their values and I don’t believe that anyone should push their beliefs on others.
That said, deer season will be coming up soon and I dread the photos of dead deer and of seeing them strapped across vehicles.
To me, taking a life — especially for sport — is beyond disgusting.
If my cousin asks me if I got or saw his photo, how do I respond? Should I say “yes” and leave it at that?
I don’t want to preach, but I also don’t want to appear to condone this behavior.
What should I do?
DEAR COUSIN: I don’t believe it is getting on a soapbox to say, “Well, I don’t like the idea or reality of killing animals.” Your cousin does, and you don’t. You aren’t preaching or advocating for any particular position, but merely stating your own.
The question I have is why you would continue to follow someone on social media whose photos routinely upset you so much.
DEAR AMY: I really disagreed with your harsh response to “Wondering What I Owe,” the woman whose friend wanted compensation for using her husband’s hotel points to pay for an overnight stay.
I travel extensively for work and these points are my payback for the hard work of being on the road. I should be able to use them however I like, without being accused of being unethical.
DEAR UPSET: Many readers agree with you, but I still believe the wife’s attempt to profit off of using these travel points is unethical — or at least unfriendly.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.