DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I attended the wedding of a close friend's son and dutifully selected a gift from their registration list. While wrapping it, I suggested that we include a note saying "We know you like the gift, so there is no need to write us a thank you note. Please enjoy."
This sentiment appealed to me because I hate writing thank you notes. We knew they would like the gift -- they picked it out. Why not save them a little time as a sort of second gift? My wife was not, however, at all supportive of this plan and it ended there. Later, the bride wrote us a very gracious thank you note.
Although I admit the idea doesn't feel quite right, if one applies the Golden Rule, it works. I would've appreciated receiving similar notes with our wedding gifts. And, as more and more couples virtually select their own wedding gifts, maybe this is an idea who's time has come?
I'm wrong, I suppose, but technically, why?
GENTLE READER: Because you are hoping to subvert an important and time-honored ritual, even though Miss Manners admits that it has already been nearly drained of meaning.
That presents have come to be thought of as payment for hospitality is a repulsive notion that means that we are selling one another our social company.
But if couples frankly started offering tickets for sale to watch them being married, Miss Manners doubts that they would have many takers. Once the sentiment is removed, people would realize that better entertainment, and probably better meals, are available elsewhere.
The sentiment comes from the thoughtfulness and generosity of the giver. As you have noted, gift registries kill the thoughtfulness part. You propose to kill the acknowledgement that there is still generosity involved.
Miss Manners cannot really blame you for thinking that there isn't much left to kill. But while even a part of it is still alive, she hopes that people will want to restore the meaning to this ancient ritual instead of just doing one another's shopping. Either that or dispose of present-giving entirely. When that happens, you will be thankful to hear that you will no longer have to express thankfulness.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Do you think it is rude and disrespectful to start a response with "I don't mean any disrespect..."?
My friend wrote that to me before she wrote about how her husband being on deployment was not comparable to my husband being away for business. I was offended just because she wrote that. Am I wrong to feel she intended to put me down?
GENTLE READER: Ordinarily, Miss Manners would agree that "I don't mean any disrespect" -- like "Let me be honest with you" and "I have to say how I feel" -- heralds an insult. But there does have to be a way that friends can call attention to an unintentional hurt.
This seems to be such a case. When you compared the absences of your respective husbands, you were presumably referring to the loneliness and inconvenience that you and your friend are both likely to feel. What you overlooked is the difference that is bound to be uppermost in her mind -- that her husband is in danger and might not return. You do owe her an apology for that omission.