Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 37° Cloudy
News >  Features

Sympathy Should Come First

Judith Martin United Features

Dear Miss Manners: Please help me - I am beside myself with hurt and anger.

I recently formed friendships at work with the women in my department (Friends A) and a woman in another department (Friend B). We enjoyed exchanging gifts at work on Christmas Eve. It was warm and fuzzy.

The day after Christmas, I arrived at work shortly after the others. I didn’t expect to see Friend B because I knew she’d be working on a project in another part of the building. I greeted Friends A and shared Christmas Day events with each of them.

Shortly into the morning, noting that a key employee (X) was absent, I asked one of the Friends A if management was going to pull Friend B from her project to fill in for X. Her response was, “Oh, you didn’t know? Her mother had a heart attack on Christmas and B won’t be here today. So-and-so told me this morning.”

Miss Manners, I was very hurt that not one of Friends A thought to tell me this tragic news about our Friend B when I first came to work. Am I wrong to feel this way? I can’t help feeling betrayed.

Gentle Reader: Your friend’s mother had a heart attack, and your reaction was to feel hurt, angry and betrayed?

Did Miss Manners miss the part where you rushed off to offer your sympathy and assistance to Friend B and, only after the situation was stabilized, began to reflect that you could have been of more help if you had been told earlier?

Miss Manners certainly hopes so. She would hate to think that such tragic emotions as you describe were aroused by feeling left out of the gossip loop at a time when a true friend would be too overcome with warm, fuzzy and sympathetic feelings to think about herself.

Dear Miss Manners: This first year after my divorce, my son went as usual to the in-laws on Christmas Eve, accompanied by his father. When he was brought home with a load of gifts, I noticed that in his bag of stocking stuff was a pack of eight thank-you cards.

This is a first. I was under the impression that family members who open gifts together around the same tree and say thank you every time they open a gift were not required to send a card also.

Gentle Reader: Indeed, most families do consider it sufficient to exchange thanks while exchanging presents. And this family was one of them, Miss Manners gathers from your not having encountered a problem about this custom during your marriage.

She supposes it is possible that they did feel that way and are now saying, “Thank goodness we don’t have to ignore this any longer - we can simply teach the boy the proper thing to do.” But she rather doubts it.

Is it possible that presents sent to your son after the divorce were not acknowledged? Or that you wrote for him, and they now want to encourage him to write them himself?

Is it even possible that such is a more general problem in the family, and all of the children were given these cards?

In any case, you want to teach your son to write letters of thanks, and his grandparents want to receive them. Miss Manners suggests you take advantage of this opportunity and neither take personal offense nor worry about the general principle involved.


The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Judith Martin United Features Syndicate

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.