Sometimes a 'thank you' is a great gift
DEAR AMY: My young-adult daughter and her partner have lived together for four years. They live 300 miles away. I am very fond of my daughter's partner and send her a birthday gift each year. I have never received a thank you. I'm flexible on the format — a text would be fine with me, however ... nothing. This year I asked my daughter if her girlfriend had received the gift, but that didn't feel right, either. In the future, should I text her girlfriend and ask her directly? Should I give up on this expectation and assume the gifts are received? The tracking number lets me know it arrived on their front porch. Of course, I'd like to hear that I selected a gift that was appreciated, but I really want to know if she got it. I've sent gifts to children knowing it was up to their parents as to whether I received a thank you. When sending a gift to an adult, my expectations are that there'd be some acknowledgment. Amy, are thank-you's and/or acknowledgements pass?
Did You Get It?
DEAR DID YOU: A "thank you" never goes out of style.
And I would say that over four years time, a texted acknowledgment from an adult that a gift was received should be considered the minimum investment toward receiving a gift the following year.
Her behavior is embarrassing to you, because now you have to face the prospect of proactively chasing down this gift.
Let's set aside the whole idea of even saying "thank you." Packages get nabbed off front porches. Even with accurate tracking, senders only know if someone actually received a package — if the recipient tells them.
And, here's a holiday bonus for all of you clueless or awkward recipients out there:
Let's say you receive a gift (even if you don't like it). Oh no! What should you do? At the very least, you should send a text — or call — saying, "Hi, I got the gift you sent! You are so thoughtful to think of me. I really appreciate it. Thank you!"
A slightly more-clever (and more fun) version of this is to take a selfie or a video selfie of yourself holding the gift, and deliver this message to the sender's phone. It takes 30 seconds, and is much appreciated.
And yes, polite and high-functioning people often also follow up with a note.
Given this woman's behavior, I think it's time for you to transition toward birthday cards. Then all of you can stop worrying about it.
DEAR AMY: How would I know if my nephews who reside outside of the USA really love me for who I am, or rather care more about my money and possibly thinking that they'll inherit some of it, since I am a gay man and have no children of my own? My contact with them is via WhatsApp on birthdays and the occasional exchange of photos.
DEAR UNCLE: If I had a litmus test to determine if love was sincere, I would have patented it (and used it on my ex-husband). I imagine a series of urine test strips, marketed with the motto: "If the strip turns blue, your love is true!"
Many generational relationships are basically exchanges: I give you this (affection, attention, material goods) and I receive that (gratitude, affection, recognition). When the exchange feels balanced, the relationship proceeds with mutual satisfaction.
But here is the maddening mystery about love. Love is something that you simply have to give away, with brave and honest intentions — and with no guarantee that it will be returned to you. My suggestion for you is that you love abundantly and take satisfaction in your ability to be so emotionally generous. Even if you don't leave these young people with any money, consider your attention and affection a lasting legacy.
DEAR AMY: In your answer to "Standards Too High," you wrote: "Too often, women ignore or override their own instincts, and then later wonder why they didn't pay attention to their own good sense." This is a true statement, but why leave out men? I get so sick of men being ignored in your column.
DEAR MAN: This question was posed by a woman, and I directed my answer to other women.
But think of it this way: Women — and people across the gender spectrum — have been pretty tolerant of being referred to as "mankind" for hundreds of years. Welcome to your insight.