Manners Matter: Just Not My Thing

Dear Mary Pat,

Over the holidays, my mother makes a thing with Jell-O and cottage cheese and mandarin oranges that’s an awful, vibrant color, and she keeps on making it because she thinks I like it. I guess I must have said – once, years ago – that I liked it, or maybe she just thinks I did. 

Now I don’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t actually like it, so I eat it anyway. How do I politely break it to my mom that it’s really not my thing, and she should save her time, money and effort for something else? Or should I just suck it up for her happiness?


This Is Not Pudding

Jacksonport, Wisconsin

Dear This Is Not Pudding,

Oh, boy. It’s hard to come clean after all this time, but honesty is always the best policy. You don’t have to go on and on about how strange you think the combination is or the weird color. Maybe just simply say that your tastes have changed and that she shouldn’t go to the trouble of making her Jell-O surprise just for your sake. 

If you tell her now – before she’s purchased the ingredients and gone to the trouble of making it – it hopefully won’t sting at all. Better yet, find a new and more palatable recipe, and offer to make it for her in place of the Jell-O concoction.  

Good luck,

Mary Pat

Miss Pat was educated at the Finnish Finishing School for Fine Ladies. Eloquent in edifying etiquette, she is fluent in seven languages, including the language of love. Mary Pat has generously extended her counsel to you and will answer any and all inquiries. Email Mary Pat at [email protected].