Dear Annie: Recently, I attended a family wedding. For the gift, I knitted an afghan out of very expensive yarn, spending weeks of my time. About two weeks before the wedding, we received a card that stated, “Please bring gift cards or cash.”
I found this rude, but since I had already invested in the gift, I decided that it was what I would give. A couple of weeks after the event, I received a pretyped thank-you card that they had simply written in, “Thanks for the gift.” I was upset, but my husband thinks I am overreacting. Am I?
Maybe I am just old-school, but when I married, I sent personal messages to thank gift-givers. Please tell me if I expected too much. This was not a huge event so it wouldn’t have taken more than an evening for them to do.
— Preferring Tradition
Dear Preferring Tradition: Your gift sounds beautiful and thoughtful, which are two attributes that I would not apply to the groom and bride. You are correct that sending out a card two weeks before the wedding asking for cash is, shall we say, tacky, at the very least.
Some couples are now asking for money toward their honeymoon or a down payment on a home. But those requests are usually stated along with the invitation well in advance.
There is nothing old-fashioned about good manners and appreciation. Rest assured in knowing that you gave a beautiful present that, here’s hoping, they will learn to appreciate.
As far as if you were overreacting, well, that is up to you. Know that you did the right thing by giving a lovely present. Their thank-you note was impersonal and thoughtless, but at least they sent one.
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Dear Annie: Recently, I was talking to a woman who was wearing jeans, and she complained that her little girl “never wants to wear a dress.” I asked her if the child ever saw her wearing a dress. It was like a lightbulb went on in her head. Parents have to set the example.
This also works with showing appreciation. It helps to show the child what it looks like from the viewpoint of the gift-giver. I would tell my children: “This person went to a lot of trouble to get you this wonderful gift. It’s important that you tell them, in writing, how much you appreciate that.”
After a party, for instance, I would tell them that they didn’t have to write 20 thank-you notes; they could write two or three a day until they were done. Breaking it down to a few minutes a day until they were finished made all the difference.
— Setting a Good Example
Dear Setting a Good Example: Children watch everything that their parents do, be it positive habits or negative ones. Part of being a good parent is being aware of your strengths and shortcomings and trying to work on the areas of your life you would like to improve — not so much for your sake but for your kids’ sake. More is caught than taught.
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— A native Californian, Annie Lane writes her Dear Annie advice columns from her home outside New York City, where she lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs. Her debut book, Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie, features favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette. Email your Dear Annie questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.