Metro-East Living

Ask neighbor if you can pick apples for her

Family couple put unpicked apples on neighbor’s tree to good use.
Family couple put unpicked apples on neighbor’s tree to good use. Detroit Free Press

Q: Our neighbor lady has a couple of old apple trees. She rarely picks up the apples. We love apples and don’t mind picking them up off the ground even though these aren’t very big apples. We love apple pie and apple crisp as well. Would it be ill-mannered if we send two of our little ones over to her house to ask if they could pick up some of her apples? We hate to see them going to waste.

A: As an adult, you should be the person asking permission for you and your children to pick up the apples FOR your neighbor lady. If she agrees, and does not want them, or only wants some of them, then you may ask if you can have some to keep them from going to waste. Also offer to make your neighbor a pie or just take over a small pie or piece of pie to thank her.

A reader’s comment to recent column: “I am a senior who has studied etiquette. The whole world is cheering for the bride and groom who sent a bill to the couple who RSVP’ed, then skipped the wedding. CHEERING!!!!

The no-shows didn’t send a present and never will. They should have contacted the bridal hosts immediately after the wedding with their apologies. The world has changed. Charging for a missed RSVP is genius. Every etiquette book on earth should be rewritten to validate the practice. RUDE? People who RSVP and then skip the event are the inexcusably rude ones. It’s not as if horrible people like that will actually pay the bill, but at least they will know how rotten they are.”

My response: Thank you for your comments. However, I totally disagree with you. There are good people in this world, who accept invitations to wedding receptions, anniversary parties and other events, which they definitely expect to attend. However, emergencies can occur in everyday life, preventing them from attending. Their absence does not mean they “skipped” the event.

To label them as “horrible” when not knowing the circumstances behind their absence, is inappropriate. To send them a bill to the couple for not attending, is unbelievably rude and ill-mannered. Focusing on getting or not getting a wedding gift from this couple, or any guest for that matter, is inappropriate. Weddings should not be about the expectations of what gifts are received, but rather having friends and family share in the joy of this special day in a couple’s life.

Should the couple contact the bride and groom and apologize for not being able to attend the wedding and offer their congratulations and best wishes? Yes. Does it have to be done the next day? Not necessarily. Should the absent couple offer to pay for their missed meals? Absolutely not!

Concern for the cost of the meals should be addressed at the time the wedding budget is established, when the menu is selected and the price per meal is determined, and when the guest list is finalized. Paying for meals for guests who may not be able to attend an event should be on the date the “final count” is required. At that time, the guest list and responses should be scrutinized very carefully and if it is felt someone may not attend, then that guest’s meal should be deducted from the final count. If not deducted, that final number is the number of meals you pay for and the subject should be removed from your mind and checklist. As a matter of practicality and reality, the larger the number of guests being invited and accepting, the more chance there will be someone who cannot attend. Therefore, it is wise to deduct a certain percentage of meals when giving the final count to avoid paying for meals not eaten.

Are there people who accept invitations to weddings and anniversary parties or other special events, knowing at the time they do so, they will not be attending? I hope not. If there are, I would think there are very, very few. Surely there can be no satisfaction gained by sending a bill to people who do this. To do so, only lowers you to their level of poor manners. Instead, consider removing their names from future guest lists.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to