DEAR ABBY: My children, from a young age, have been schooled in writing prompt and courteous thank-you letters for gifts or other kindnesses they have received. They understand the importance of this common courtesy.
During lunch today, a friend told me about a thank-you note he had received for a gift he had given. The note was received via his computer's e-mail system.
I chuckled and wondered whether this electronic note "counted" as a thank-you note.
Abby, is a well-thought-out, polite thank-you note sent via e-mail an appropriate and acceptable way of acknowledging a gift? If the giver's e-mail is on the giver's letterhead, does this make a difference?
Please hurry your answer. My son's bar mitzvah is approaching and I think it would be a cute and novel way of responding. -- BEVERLY HILLS M.D.
DEAR M.D.: If someone goes to the trouble and expense of giving your son a bar mitzvah gift, I suggest you resist the "cute and novel" manner of acknowledging it. For a rite of passage such as this, more formality is required. E-mail is terrific, but save it for less formal occasions.
DEAR ABBY: The recent letter from the person wanting to know how to say goodbye to someone who was dying whom they held in great esteem prompts this letter.
Seven years ago, I was blessed and honored to be able to care for my husband at home during his courageous battle with cancer. He was loved and admired by many co-workers, friends, acquaintances and family. Our phone rang constantly with calls from the many people who wanted to wish him well.
Although we appreciated the concern and love being expressed, it was emotionally draining as well as sometimes physically impossible to deal with all the calls. For the first time, we bought an answering machine. It was the kind that broadcasts the message aloud while it is being left. We could monitor the calls, and answer the ones we needed to without having to stop what we were doing.
Though we bought it for our convenience, it turned out to have an additional advantage. Because my husband could no longer talk, it had been difficult for him to interact with visitors. But now he could hear their voices without having to respond or even hold the telephone. One day, as I walked into his room I was touched by the scene that greeted me. He was lying in his bed with tears in his eyes listening to the messages that had been left. He would listen, then play them over and over again.
I was so thankful we bought that machine. It lifted a tremendous burden from us and became a source of comfort and support. I think in many cases, it made leaving heartfelt messages a little easier for the callers, too. Sometimes not being in direct contact makes expressing oneself a bit less awkward. Perhaps this could be a solution to others in the same situation. -- ONE WHO HAS LOVED, OREM, UTAH
DEAR ONE WHO HAS LOVED: Thank you for an excellent suggestion, and for a letter that will touch many hearts today. I'm sorry for your loss. Your husband must have been an outstanding man to have had so many people care about him.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600