'Thank you' is mandatory
About six months ago my grandson Adam had a bar mitzvah. It was small and took place on a long weekend. Invitations were sent out, and I knew some people wouldn’t be attending, since they had already made other commitments for the holiday weekend.
Some of the invited were relatives, and knowing my relations, I knew they would still send a gift anyway. I told my son and daughter-in-law this, and asked that they make sure all the relatives who send a gift get thank you notes, not just the ones that attend. In all fairness, that’s the right thing to do.
“Oh yes, of course,” they both said. Well, here it is four months later, and I got a call from one of my relatives asking me if Adam received her gift. She went on to say, “I know the cheque was cashed, but I’m not sure if Adam knows it was from me, as I never received any acknowledgement.”
What should I do? Should I call my son and find out why nothing was mailed? I feel terrible and am quite upset. I’m ready to let them know how I feel, but I’m afraid of what the outcome will be if I open my mouth. I hope you can offer your opinion.
It’s unfortunate that you’ve been put in this position. You may feel this reflects badly on you and are concerned that people will think poorly of your family. As a grandmother, that’s the last thing you want. The fact is, it’s not your gift-giving relative that put you in this position, it’s Adam and his parents who need to shoulder the blame. It’s the job of the parents of the bar mitzvah boy to make sure this child understands and appreciates what it means to receive a gift.
Often in families there is so much happening with school and extra-curricular activities that there’s not enough time in a day to fit in mundane tasks such as writing personalized thank-you notes. What a horrible lesson to teach a child.
Thank-you notes should arrive at the home of the gift giver no later than three months after the event. Ideally, they should be written within two weeks and sent out immediately while the event is still fresh. If possible, they should be hand written and personalized with the giver’s name and type of gift. If it’s cash, it can say “Your generous gift will help with my education, my trip, my Xbox, whatever.” Just make it personal.
People have put their hard-earned, after-tax dollars into this gift, and it’s mandatory that they’re acknowledged in a timely and respectful manner.
Unfortunately, you’re the one who’s received the phone call, and it’s up to you to relay the message. You don’t need to preach. You just need to tell them exactly what was said. What they choose to do with that information is up to them. I might even ask Adam directly about the status of the thank-you cards, in front of his parents. If anyone argues or makes excuses, just say, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Once the message is communicated, you’ve done your job.
Readers may submit their questions to Ella at The CJN, e-mail: email@example.com. But Ella is not a professional counsellor. She brings to the questions posed by readers her unique brand of earthy wisdom. Her advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.