DEAR MISS MANNERS: Thank you for being a thank-you card activist. I was not raised with this practice, and shamefully did not do a thorough job after my wedding, which is something I will always have to live with. But I swear I have mended my ways since.
Nowadays, one’s presents are often delivered directly to one’s home from an online store, and the giver of the gift is able to track the delivery. Oftentimes upon delivery, the giver texts the receiver to confirm that they found the package; sometimes, they even call.
During such a call or text, one is apt to repeat the contents of the thank-you card one wrote within 20 minutes of receiving the gift. Should one do their best to avoid repeating those things during the call or text exchange, so that the card is not redundant?
Some of these givers are not thank-you card senders -- they thank via text or call -- so their mode of action is not in line with the expectation of a card. I like to send cards, but do people who do not send or expect them like to receive them? Am I pushing my ways on them by insisting on sending a card and saving the best of my expression for that format? Am I obliged to have a call and send a card if only the former is the giver’s expectation?
GENTLE READER: The only people who are annoyed at receiving letters of thanks, or other courtesies, are those who resent good manners in others because it shows up their own rudeness.
For them, Miss Manners recommends making it clear that you are not merely observing a duty. Something like, “I can’t help telling you how delighted I was to receive your kind present.”
The instant reaction, by telephone or text, is only necessary to reassure the giver that the item has arrived -- because, of course, you write those letters immediately so there will be only a short gap. You do need to put in your thanks, but by all means, save your eloquence for the letters, where it looks so much better.