DEAR AMY: Recently I lost a member of my extended family. In lieu of flowers, we requested charitable donations to that family member's favorite charity.
A family friend sent a note that she was sending a contribution to her favorite charity in the name of the deceased.
Although I am grateful and appreciative of the gesture, part of me is wondering why she couldn't simply send $5 to the specified charity in honor of the deceased.
Am I being petty?
By the way, this is the second occasion in which she has disregarded our choice (albeit a completely different charity this time) and elected her favorite charity again.
DEAR PUZZLED: I can imagine someone declining to contribute to a charity that had a political or philosophical agenda she opposed on principle, but otherwise, her choice to contribute to her own favorite charity seems as if she is marking this occasion by giving herself a bonus.
OK, that's an exaggeration, but giving your pet cause a boost and yourself a tax deduction doesn't seem like an appropriate way to celebrate someone else's life — and expressions of sympathy are supposed to honor and remember the deceased.
All the same, she did make a gesture on your relative's behalf, and your gratitude — even if it is a little forced — is appropriate.
DEAR AMY: I fly frequently and know that most people try very hard to be considerate to other travelers.
Recently I was on a plane, sitting next to a mother and her child, who seemed to be about 5 years old.
I realize kids can be tough to travel with, and putting up with the occasional crying baby is just part of air travel.
But the mother herself was baby-talking at the top of her lungs, encouraging the child to sing "Dora the Explorer" songs at full volume and generally being a much bigger nuisance than her child.
She wasn't totally clueless: She stopped the child from kicking the seat in front of her and shushed her after a series of particularly ear-piercing, excited shrieks.
I let it go, but I really wanted to ask the mother to use her "inside voice."
Any advice for dealing with adult passengers who bellow as if they're communicating between two naval ship decks?
Or is it best to just put up and shut up?
— Flummoxed Flier
DEAR FLUMMOXED: I'd say it's best to just plug in your headphones, close your eyes and daydream of George Clooney, but recently on a flight I found myself on the other end of your situation when I engaged in a very animated conversation with a seatmate.
Airplanes tend to have a lot of ambient noise, and I think my ears might have been clogged (I'll post a list of other lame excuses on my Web site).
It seems my seatmate and I were loud enough to disturb at least one other passenger, who tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me, but would you two mind keeping your voices down?"
That's a polite, straightforward and reasonable request, and we apologized and then complied.
Sometimes people don't realize how loud they are until someone tells them.
DEAR AMY: In response to brides and grooms who "have to have" younger children in their wedding party, they should know what they are getting into.
When my daughter was 2-1/2, she was the flower girl for my brother's wedding and his 3-year-old son was the ring bearer.
I tried to explain to my brother and his bride that they would be better off having someone older, but they felt my daughter would be fine with her cousin.
Well, she did not want to walk down the aisle, and I had to walk with her and then eventually pick her up to get her down the aisle.
As soon as we got to the reception, however, the beautiful little girl was the hit of the party with her and her cousin and everyone else dancing with them. It was a festive ending that the bride and groom were fine with.
— Linda in Maryland
DEAR LINDA: I agree that when you ask a toddler to perform a complicated task, you have to keep your expectations very much in check.
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