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Not too late to say thanks properly

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I became engaged, the women of my religious institution (my mother’s contemporaries) held a shower for me, for which I immediately wrote thank-you notes for the luncheon and the gifts.

My husband and I were married by a judge but had a reception several months later in my hometown. While I was mingling with the guests, one of the ladies who had attended the luncheon came up to me and told me, with a smile, that I had written her a thank-you note for the wrong gift (I got you X, and you thanked me for Y) and that she thought I would like to know.

I was mortified, of course. I apologized effusively, said it must have been new-bride idiocy, thanked her for the gift she did give me and retired red-faced.

It has haunted me since then, and I’ve never seen her afterward without feeling like a fool – and I’ve been married 29 years.

Should I have written her another thank-you note? What would have been the best response? Since no one else mentioned anything, I can only hope that the rest of the notes were accurate. It’s years too late, of course, but I’d love to lay this ghost to rest and feel I acted correctly at the time.

GENTLE READER: Twenty-nine years is a long time to feel like a fool, and Miss Manners would like to offer you some relief. But alas, she cannot bring herself to declare that the fact that the lady already had a (misguided) letter from you, or your including thanks with your embarrassed apology, took the place of a genuine and correct letter of thanks.

You could write quite an amusing letter, but not about your guilt. Rather, you should say that you think you may have finally recovered from the bridal idiocy that made you thank her for the wrong present 29 years ago, and you want to tell her how much you have enjoyed the right one all this time.

Then, perhaps, you can get a good night’s sleep. Just please include specific details, or your benefactor will be up all night trying to remember what on earth she gave you.



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