Dear Annie: Revisiting ‘Thank You’ etiquette
Dear Annie: Seven months after attending a wedding, I just received a computer-generated thank-you note. The note was printed on a label and then stuck on a purchased note card. Although it addressed us by name, it never acknowledged any gift given. It simply said they appreciated our “sharing (our) generosity” and thanked us for being part of their day and for being in their lives. Also included was a tiny picture of the couple. There were fewer than 100 guests at the wedding, so the couple were not overwhelmed with thank-you notes to write. The groom’s parents are great friends of ours, and we gave the gift to them prior to the wedding, but we’re now left wondering: Did the couple actually get the gift and know it was from us? Do I say something to the groom’s parents, and if so, how do I tactfully say this? I would hate to think that this is the new trend among young brides. Thankfully, I know three recent young brides who were very prompt with their notes and personalized their messages. — Confused in Connecticut
Dear Confused: They probably received your gift; they just never got their manners. There’s no real tactful way to speak to the groom’s parents about this issue, so I would just let it go. As a poet wrote nearly 1,000 years ago, “the test of good manners is to be patient with the bad ones.”
Brand-new newlyweds: Please handwrite your thank-you notes. It’s easier to deal with a cramped hand for a day than guests feeling slighted for years.
Dear Annie: The letter from “Still-Grieving Parent” could have been written by me a couple of years ago, but thanks to the certified grief counselor at Hope Hospice, I’ve come a long way. Losing a child is the hardest thing any parent could ever deal with, and we are entitled to that grief.
That does not give us permission to expect other people involved to feel the exact same way we do or act exactly as we do. “Still-Grieving Parent” is being selfish to expect her son-in-law to choose being alone for the duration of her personal grieving period. If she loved her daughter, she would respect that her daughter would want someone she loved to get on with his life. We all know that no one can ever take the place of our children, but it is different when you lose a spouse. I know that, too.
She may not comprehend that her son-in-law is extremely lonely and missing the love of a mate. By disowning the new relationship, she is also sending signals to her grandchildren that it is OK for them to disrespect their dad’s girlfriend.
If “Still-Grieving Parent” wants to help herself cope, she will look at the positives. Obviously, the dad is trying to make a normal home environment for her grandkids, and she should try to accept that out of respect for her daughter.
She should continue with private counseling but should also seek out a group of parents who have lost adult children. I still grieve after three years, but I can enjoy a happy relationship with my daughter-in-law, her new husband and their family, including the two extra grandkids. It cannot replace my son, but when I look at how much his children have achieved, it shows me I did the right thing by not interfering. —Been There, Done That
Dear Been: It’s invaluable to hear the perspective of someone who has lived through this and come out the other side. I believe you’re right that I was too hard on the son-in-law in my response to “Still-Grieving Parent.” Spouses grieve in different ways, and the fact that he sought companionship after his wife’s passing shows how much he enjoyed having a partner. It should not be taken as disrespectful.