DEAR MISS MANNERS: Somewhere along the line, I was led to believe that a handwritten note was preferable to a printed card for expressing sympathy.
I’ve been sending handwritten notes on notecards I make on my computer -- the front has a picture of a butterfly flying toward a bright light, and the back has our names and contact information. I leave the inside blank to write on. I admit these cost me very little to make.
My father died a couple of months ago, and I received many beautiful store-bought greeting cards -- most with handwritten notes of various lengths about my dad, in addition to the signature below the printed sentiment.
Am I being cheap and gauche to use my homemade cards? Should I be buying expensive cards to send sympathy notes?
A lot of our friends are losing parents, siblings and spouses, and I have quite a few to write. I would really need to buy cards by the box to have enough, but the ones I received were bought individually from the card rack. They are much fancier than the boxed kind or the ones I make myself.
GENTLE READER: The odd notion that it is somehow important that condolences be sent on a commercial card is widespread, Miss Manners has noted with amazement.
Don’t people understand that the key element of expressing condolences to the bereaved, and tributes to the deceased, is the part that the senders write themselves? That, and not your choice from a card rack, is what makes the card meaningfully personal. Whether you write it on plain paper or designs you find on the computer, or alongside preprinted sentiments, is irrelevant.