DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am based in the Washington, D.C., area and must correspond with colleagues all over the world, particularly in Europe. When I log in for the day, I see correspondence from them already because of the time difference.
When I respond, should I greet them by writing “Good morning,” even though it is well into their afternoon? Or should I write “Good afternoon”?
GENTLE READER: Knowing your correspondent’s time zone is not enough to determine when your response will be read, which is why such greetings as “Dear Sir” and “My dearest love” date back to communications that could take months to arrive, sometimes still damp from a storm at sea.
But the question you raise is important for real-time communication across time zones. “Good afternoon” is shorthand for wishing that your recipient have a good afternoon, a sentiment that Miss Manners feels will make more sense if you adopt the time zone of the recipient.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: For the last three years, my adult son has made a generous contribution to a nonprofit. He then sends a card to me and to other family members, informing us that he has made this gift in our honor for Christmas.
While I am glad that he is generous, the organization isn’t one that any of us are particularly interested in to support. My son serves on their board and believes in the mission – great for him! I have always thought that a gift of that type is given to a cause the receiver supports.
Of course, I have thanked him for this gift and occasionally ask about how things are going with the organization. I have never made a contribution myself.
When I’m feeling snarky, I consider making a contribution “in his honor” to one of several charities I support rather than work at finding a gift that he would enjoy but is perfectly capable of purchasing himself. Then I feel childish!
Am I correct in thinking he is a bit misguided? Do I continue to thank him and be glad he thinks of me and is generous to his cause? Do I contribute to “my” organization in his honor and let it go?
When I have talked about this with my family, they all agree his method is not the norm but nothing to make a fuss over. I suppose my burning question, if I am correct, is: Do I find a way to politely let him know I would rather he contribute to something I support?
GENTLE READER: Turning it into a tug-of-war over where the money goes is not a solution; it is an invitation to debate the relative merits of his nonprofit vs. yours.
But you are right that his present is what Miss Manners would call thoughtless. Her solution is to tell him how happy you are that he has found a cause he is passionate about. But as it is his cause, not yours, he should, in future, make the donation in his own name.
You will feel just as loved if you do not receive Christmas presents. (All of which is your speech to your son. Miss Manners is not asking you to believe that you will feel less loved sans present.)
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.
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