September 7, 2009 in Features

Miss Manners: Charity wedding gifts leave reader confused

Judith Martin
 

DEAR MISS MANNERS: The invitations for the wedding of a pair of friends included a list of local charities to which invitees could send contributions. I don’t recall the exact wording, but they were clear that such contributions are mere suggestions, a productive way to redirect any blender-buying compulsions.

I took them up on it and made a contribution. Now I’m wondering about the follow-through.

Sending the happy couple a letter saying, “Hey guys, I didn’t have to, but I chose to give money to your favorite charity. Aren’t I a nice guy?” seems the pinnacle of tacky. The fact that this gift was so clearly optional, and in the form of a specific dollar amount (of which I should inform them?) makes such a notice feel more about me than about a couple starting a new life.

Some have suggested that it is the responsibility of the charity to notify the couple, but I flubbed this by not providing their address; anyway, I gather that although the charity’s tiny staff does good work in the community, paperwork is not really their forte. What is the protocol for such gifts?

GENTLE READER: What gifts?

Your friends made a solicitation to you on behalf of their favorite charities, and you gave a donation. Well and good. But Miss Manners fails to see what this has to do with their getting married and your giving them a wedding present.

Yes, yes, she is aware that a vast number of people presume that their weddings (and graduations and birthdays and holidays) are license to order what they want from their relatives and friends. She also acknowledges that those who direct others to charitable donations instead are not exhibiting personal greed.

Yet even by making it “optional” (all such giving is optional, as there is no way to force collection), they are still presuming others’ resources are theirs to direct. Miss Manners is weary of trying to make people understand that this is not a thoughtful or noble approach to take.

So instead, she will just tell you how to make the point about being a “nice guy.” Write a warm note, throwing in thanks for having called the charity to your attention, and mentioning that you were glad to support it. Stating the sum is not only crass but pointless, as it is the charity, not they, who owe you gratitude.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it impolite to greet someone pleasantly when I run into him around town, but then ignore his phone calls, e-mails, and all other attempts to get in touch? The person in question happens to be my ex-boyfriend.

GENTLE READER: Oddly enough, there is a big difference. Snubbing someone to his face is a major insult, justifiable only to someone who has behaved abominably. A mere romantic attachment of whom one is tired deserves a pleasant – if fleeting – greeting.

However, this one is continuing to be tiresome but refusing to accept the break-up, Miss Manners gathers. Becoming too busy to be available for pleadings or recriminations, or a lachrymose combination, is therefore permissible.

Readers may write to Miss Manners at MissManners@unitedmedia.com, or via postal mail at United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016.


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