DEAR AMY: Eleven years ago, I married the most perfect person for me. We’ve been blissfully married ever since. We had a very small wedding with just our closest family and friends in attendance, or at least that was the plan. We ended up with quite a few tangential people there. Despite our invitations saying “No gifts, please,” people still brought gifts — a lot of gifts. When we got home after the reception we opened everything and I immediately made a list so I could get my thank-you notes written. I’m fairly disorganized and tend to get scattered. I got about a quarter of them written. Everything was in a box: the cards, envelopes, stamps, my list, everything! And then, oops, it got mistakenly tossed during a cleaning spree. As a result, no one received a thank-you note from me. I got in touch with those I knew best and explained what happened, but I couldn’t remember everyone or what they gave us and I have literally felt awful about this ever since. We had no saved copies of the guest list, or anything. How can I get over this? I feel terrible and wonder how badly these people must think of me, and wish I could take out a major ad on TV so everyone would know I’m not a crass, ungrateful brat. Help me find peace, please.
Shamed and Grateful
DEAR SHAMED: You have two choices here: Continue to not get over it, while suspecting that some people think that you are a “crass ungrateful brat,” or . . . write your notes!
If your wedding was as small as you say, I’m sure you can figure out who attended, through photos and enlisting the help of your husband, close friends, family and the magic of Facebook.
Celebrate your next wedding anniversary by making this right. You and your spouse should take full responsibility for your inattention, and then let each guest know — by mail — that you are grateful for their presence in your life and at your wedding and that you are still “blissfully married.” Say, “If you gave us a material gift that has not been acknowledged, please let us know so that we may thank you properly for it.” Send along a wedding photo alongside a current photo.
If you’re feeling intimidated, consider watching an episode of “New Girl” called “The Right Thing,” in which Schmidt, a man in his 30s, is tasked with writing thank-you notes to his Bar Mitzvah guests . . . 20 years later.
DEAR AMY: A couple of weeks ago, my manager, “Shelly,” quit. She was a fantastic boss and in her free time she was helping me study to pass my certification exam. Even after she quit, she promised she would still study with me. I guess her departure ruffled a lot of feathers upstairs. The higher-ups are incredibly angry with her, and have asked me to stop studying with her. I can understand why they wouldn’t want a current employee studying with a former employee, especially one who (apparently) left on bad terms. Unfortunately, my former boss now has my study guides, which I borrowed from a colleague. How do I politely ask for my books back, while still letting her know that I appreciate what she did for me? I plan to give her a thank-you gift, but how can I tell her that I can no longer study with her and still keep our relationship civil? Professionally, she is an amazing contact. I don’t want to burn that bridge.
DEAR WORRIED: Before you change plans because the higher-ups told you to, remember that your company can’t dictate who you spend personal time with. That being said, some of this material may be proprietary, and your bosses presumably have a legitimate business reason to ask you to limit your contact.
The borrowed study materials are the perfect reason to reach out and arrange to catch up and get them back. Say, “As you know, I borrowed them from Frank, and I will need to return them.” Let her know that you’ve made study arrangements that work better with your schedule, thank her sincerely and ask if she would mind if you kept in touch.
DEAR READERS: Sometimes people who dispense advice run out of answers. If you’ve ever been curious about the life behind my advice, read my new book, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home” (2017, Hachette).