DEAR MISS MANNERS: I realize that delivery services send a notice when a package has been delivered. However, I also appreciate hearing from the recipient that the package successfully made it into their hands, undamaged and intact. The number of thefts from people’s porches has recently increased, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect an acknowledgment that a package arrived safely.
When I didn’t receive an acknowledgment from my niece regarding a gift I sent to my 4-year-old great-niece, I sent a text, asking her if she got the package. I didn’t receive a reply for another week, and when I did, it was: “Yes, she loved it.”
That was the complete text. I don’t expect a follow-up thank-you note, but felt a little disappointed in her belated and curt reply.
I’m glad my great-niece loved it, but it almost felt like my niece was put out for having to reply. I know she is very busy, but it takes only a few seconds to add the words “Thank you!” And it takes the same amount of time to respond whether one waits a day or a week, so why keep the sender waiting and wondering if their gift was received? Am I expecting too much?
GENTLE READER: Some people are indeed expecting too much. Your niece evidently expects people to pay tribute to her and her daughter without their deigning to take notice.
You are expecting too little. Asking whether a present has been received long served as the polite way to complain that, rather, it is thanks that have not been received. As you point out, tracking and delivery notices have blown that cover.
But why are people -- it’s not just you -- ashamed to admit that they want to be thanked for their generosity?
The purpose of giving a present is to please the recipient. Why do gift-givers feel selfish if they want to know that it worked? The very company from which you bought it will probably pelt you with pleas to say whether you were pleased with the product and the service.
Miss Manners has always believed that people who do not acknowledge presents are annoyed at receiving them, and she respects that preference.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should an immediate family celebrate birthdays as spouses and grandchildren enter the picture?
We have a history of scheduling a celebration for every single birthday, moving it from the day-of to weekends or to whenever everyone can come. With parents, six adult kids, spouses and now grandchildren, this has become exhausting.
How does one gracefully change the tempo? And what (if anything) should it be changed to?
GENTLE READER: As these gatherings have presumably been suspended during the pandemic, you have an excellent chance to redesign them. The key is not to say that you are exhausted, but that you are afraid that others must be.
Some might protest, so Miss Manners suggests jumping in with the idea that you have monthly parties to celebrate all of that month’s birthdays.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)