Dear Miss Manners: My parents own season tickets for our local team. Several times a year, they are unable to attend and offer their tickets to my husband and me. Sometimes the timing is not good and we politely decline, but often we enthusiastically accept.

For the first time ever, we did not attend a game for which we had tickets. The game occurred during a very hectic week, and we decided at the last minute that we'd prefer to spend a quiet night resting at home.

Unfortunately, friends of my parents noticed that the seats were empty and reported this to my parents, who are hurt.

Was it rude of us not to attend the game? We greatly appreciate my parents' generosity and fully intended to go when we accepted the tickets. I don't know that it would serve my parents any better if we turned down all ticket offers because of the very small chance that something might prevent us from attending.

Gentle reader: Did you get that rest? Your tone makes Miss Manners think that another quiet night at home would be a good investment.

Turning down all future ticket offers will not serve them right — or wrong. Miss Manners does not suggest that it was rude to skip the game. But she does understand why your parents might have appreciated an effort to notify them. Perhaps there was a friend who would have gladly forfeited a restful night at home.

Valentine's Day 101

Dear Miss Manners: My friend, who I dated a couple of times, asked me to be his valentine (received card and gifts). I accepted. Now, what should I do? Should I reciprocate with an invitation to do something?

Gentle reader: Like what? You two have established a romantic bond. Surely it is time for Miss Manners to leave you on your own to develop it.

Don't rush gratitude

Dear Miss Manners: I love my dad to death. However, whenever my wife and I come to visit and we're eating a meal, he makes a big point of saying to my mom, "Sure is good!" only seconds into the meal. The implication is that we should have said something first.

I have at times tried to solve this by quickly taking the first bite and then beating him to the punch with the first compliment. Conversely, at other times I've not said anything, to let him know he can't pressure me. Argggh!

Gentle reader: If you have to gulp your food to get in a compliment before your father, then he is not trying to change your behavior — at least not successfully.

He is, however, being quite successful at irritating you, and this is in your control. In his defense, Miss Manners points out that he may think he is defending your mother, and simply likes her cooking. If she knows how much you appreciate her efforts — which you can show in other ways, such as thanking her at the end of the evening — then you may enjoy your meal without implications.

"Miss Manners" is Judith Martin of the Washington Post. Send questions to her website,