DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am sorry for never saying "thank you" to my family and want to apologize, but I am not sure how to go about doing it.
You see, as a child my mother would always force my siblings and me to write thank-you notes to family after receiving birthday and Christmas gifts. We were taught that it was the right thing to do.
However, once I hit my preteen and into my teenage and college years, I became lazy and stopped sending thank you letters. Even after I received a plethora of wonderful gifts for my high school and college graduation.
Of course, I was too old for mother to make me do it, so I just didn't. Soon, the gifts stopped coming, and I don't blame my family for doing so. It's not that I want them to start sending gifts again, but now that I'm older and wiser, I am regretful. I want my family to know that I am sorry and that I truly appreciated everything they did for me.
How do I apologize? In a phone call? A letter? Or is too late?
GENTLE READER: At the moment, it is too early. Years late, but just a mite too early. You wouldn't want your letters (yes, you are back to being told to write letters) to make the recipients think that you were sitting around at Christmas time thinking, "Hey, where's all the stuff?" and writing to encourage it.
But you can get started on writing now, you will be happy to hear, because New Year's will do. It even provides plausibility to the notion that you are reflecting rather than collecting.
Your letter should begin something like this, with no -- repeat: no -- mention of presents:
"I've been thinking back over my past, and I remember all the kind things you have done for me over the years. I don't think I have ever properly thanked you, but I want you to know how much I appreciate your thoughtfulness nevertheless."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Recently, my husband and I have fallen upon hard times and have been blessed enough to have considerate friends and family. We have been showered with no-strings-attached gifts of clothing, food and even money.
Now, my mother has always taught me that when someone gives you a gift, the least you can do is to buy thank-you cards to fill out fully with a hand written thank you on the inside.
My dilemma stems from the fact that it doesn't seem right to use the much-needed money (even though cards cost so little) that was gifted us for our needs to buy the cards. I have thought of using our printer and card stock that we have on hand to make my own, simple, cards myself, but still feel this is not appropriate, especially since I don't have the proper envelopes for said cards and would end up also making those myself.
GENTLE READER: You are in luck. Miss Manners assures you that a hand-written and hand-made is not just acceptable, but more gracious than anything you can buy. Paper with a printed "Thank You," whether bought or from your own printer, looks more like a receipt than a real letter with all the words written in your own hand.