DEAR MISS MANNERS: My household had the misfortune of becoming ill with COVID-19. We also had the good fortune of surviving it.
Two of its members became considerably ill for some time, and we were under quarantine for 32 days. Thankfully, friends and some relatives kept us fed by dropping off groceries and meals on our doorstep throughout the month.
We are now one week past quarantine. People are still generally treating us like we are contagious (I am not saying that I blame them), so I’ve tried to be sensitive to this and have waited to send out thank-you notes to all of the kind people who helped feed us while we were sick. I was discussing this with a close family member and trying to get an idea of how long he thought I should wait. It seems like two months is too long, but I thought it might take that long before people trusted something coming from my house.
He was very frank with me and told me that he didn’t think I should bother sending any thank-you notes through the mail at all. He felt I should only communicate my gratefulness electronically, because in his opinion, people will probably be uncomfortable about getting anything from me for many, many more months.
This seems sad. I know that COVID-19 has frightened people terribly. But it just seems wrong to thank people through email or text message when they were so generous and kind when my family was ill. However, the last thing I want to do is make these people feel uncomfortable. What does Miss Manners suggest I do?
GENTLE READER: Although there does not seem to be evidence that the virus can be transmitted through the mail, Miss Manners acknowledges that your benefactors might nevertheless be jumpy. But she also agrees that a casual text or email is not a sufficient response to life-sustaining kindness.
Paying a call in person was once the highly formal way of giving thanks: You would write “p.r.” -- the French abbreviation of “to thank” (“pour remercier”) -- in the corner of your calling card.
Now, Miss Manners is no more suggesting that you scare people by popping up at their doors than that you thank them in French. But you can arrange a virtual visit in which to express your profound thanks.