Thursday, March 20, 2008

I've Noticed

I was just reading today's Dear Prudence and the last entry made me think about the etiquette of the thank you letter. And then one thing in particular. (By the way, I applaud Ms Yoffe's prudent reply to letter #1. I had a hard time not being judgmental just reading it.)

Before I go further, I will admit that I'm terrible with thank you letters, though I wish I was better about it (no one is stopping me but me, I know). I still feel that a personal in-presence (or telephone) thank you is sufficient. And, I am content if I only receive an in-person or modern (e-mail, text, etc) thank you. These are acceptable to me for birthdays and holidays; weddings are the only times I really expect a hand-written note of thanks. Rules of etiquette say otherwise (take heed!) but that's not the point here.

One of the things about living with my parents is that I often get invited to go to certain functions with them (I've even been to weddings where some people invite my parents because I don't have a guest to bring). Well, since we're all invited together, the three of us tend to pool our finances to get one or two bigger gifts or a bunch of smaller gifts for our friends (and I use "our" for simplicity. It's usually their friends, or my friends, and only occasionally mutual friends).

What happens when we all come together to acknowledge the special event with a gift, and we all sign the card (or, my mother with the prettiest handwriting signs all of our names for us), is usually the thank you is addressed to my parents. My presence at the event is acknowledged (and, in the cases of several small gifts, maybe one or two of them are named from me), but rarely is my part in the gift understood. When multiple little gifts are involved and people try to guess who is responsible for what, they're always not completely correct.

It just seems to me that it would be most logical to thank everyone, wouldn't it? I mean, if we're all on the card and that card was accompanied by a gift, wouldn't it make more sense to thank everyone on the card? Really, who are you to judge what part I did or did not play in the gift process? We put everything together for a reason, after all. I wonder if this means they assume I get put on the card as an afterthought. It happens with everyone; whether it's my parents' friend(s) or my friend(s) or mutual friend(s). Really, I feel rather disparaged at this trend.

I can only think of one couple at the moment that did not fall into this faux pas: my neighbors' following their wedding last August.

It hasn't sensitized me to the point of not giving gifts at all (as some people who never seem to get thanked tend to do) because I really like getting and doing things for others. But, I'm also starting to really grasp the value of gracious acknowledgment.

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