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Miss Manners: Snail mail trumps email at Christmas

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve sent nearly all my Christmas letters out this year by email (hard copies to those whose email addresses I don’t have). A friend said this was impersonal; however, he also said that he and his wife had culled their list considerably.

My list was nearly tripled. Who would you say was more “impersonal”: one who “touched” three times more of their friends, or those who touched far fewer of their friends than they did just last year?

GENTLE READER: You are being more impersonal. Sorry.

Quantity is easy with email – only too easy, Miss Manners believes. Everybody’s inbox is cluttered with polemics, jokes, warnings and copies of memos that concern only the primary addressee.

The only touching going on here is your finger on Send All and perhaps the recipients’ fingers on Delete.

In contrast, your friends are presumably culling their lists in the interest of quality, dropping the exchanges that have, over time, become meaningless. Miss Manners submits that saving others from having to wonder, “Who on earth are these people – I don’t know them, do you?” is a form of thoughtfulness.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My brother and I (who live in different cities) are exchanging gifts via the Internet. Each of us thought that the retailer we were ordering from would gift-wrap before shipping the selected gift to the other one’s address, but it turned out not to be so.

Now we are each faced with having to wrap our own presents (we each live alone), then unwrapping them and pretending surprise. Not that we aren’t up to the task, but we were wondering what is the proper etiquette for gift wrapping when sending gifts via Internet.

GENTLE READER: As you and your brother are old enough to live on your own, Miss Manners would think you would be old enough to dispense with the charade of faking surprise on Christmas Day. If not, she suggests that you leave all pre-Christmas packages unopened in their mailing wrappings until then.

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