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SHOOT ARROW THROUGH THIS VALENTINE PROTEST

Q: The prevailing custom in elementary school these days seems to be that a child must - must - bring a Valentine's Day card for each student in her classroom (plus the teacher).

This seems to me to be a debasement of the whole purpose of a valentine, which is to show how much you admire someone else. Granted, there are hurt feelings when a Valentine is not received as expected, but is a valueless mass delivery any improvement on that?

I am considering boycotting the entire ceremony for my little girls (both in kindergarten this year) in hope of getting teachers and other parents to consider just what has become of this holiday. Any suggestions?

A:Chiefly this one: Do not, repeat not, cast your little girls in the role of Valentine's Day spoilers. You would soon be sympathizing with those who can't bear to see children being left out.

Adults make their own points themselves, and the proper place to make yours is at a parent-teacher meeting, where other voices can be heard. Miss Manners believes you might have a better chance if you suggest that the individual admiration cards be given in addition to the group ones. That way, the children who receive many can still run around asking the others how many they got.

Expect to see new faces at your wedding

Q: I am a 20-year-old college student who has been lucky enough to find a wonderful man. We will be married next summer, but my mother has already started on the guest list.

Because she and my father are graciously paying for the wedding, I don't mind that the majority of the list are friends of hers. I have objected to her wanting to invite some church friends that both my fiance and I have never even met and don't have much desire to meet, but she insists that it would be rude to leave them out.

All I can think about is how awkward the receiving line will be when my fiance and I will both be saying nice to meet you. I want a wedding that will be smaller and more intimate, so I don't think that I'm wrong. Will you please help us?

A: Not if it involves telling your mother that you have no desire to meet people she feels ought to be there.

Miss Manners suspects that you may have been over-exposed to the commercial wedding literature that declares that it is "your day" and "all about you," before it lures you into debt.

Many aspects of marriage are all about you two, but the wedding is a two-family event.

And don't worry about meeting new people in the receiving line. Unless you have already been introduced to every one of your bridegroom's cousins and his parents' friends, you will be meeting many people for the first time. Since they will all be telling you how beautiful you look, it should be a pleasant experience.

Address your etiquette questions to Miss Manners, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

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