Etiquette Amnesia

by admin on November 6, 2017

I am usually not too demanding about how other people live their lives. I don’t even mind if people forget to thank me, or if they thank me with an e-mail or a quick note about something else, but I have noticed lately that there is an absence of etiquette among the young people of today. I have sent a gift of money, although not a large amount, to every one of my children who live away from home currently, and also to their offspring. I very seldom receive a thank you note. I have discussed this with many of my friends and they say they have the same problem with their kids. They, as well as I, have given a lot of etiquette training to our children when they were growing up, but the youngsters seem to have etiquette amnesia.

At first I used to send checks to the children, but then I noticed that they do not come back to my bank for a long time. When I asked them if they were going to cash the checks, I am told that they haven’t had time to go to the bank. So then I started sending cash. Recently, two family members have asked if we sent them a card since we usually do, but they never got one. I am glad they told me because I had no idea that there could possibly be a problem with the Post Office. Now, I don’t know what to do next. I asked a couple of the kids to come over and get their card. I delivered one card to their house. What a shame! Neither they nor we have much time to constantly making trips and staying home to receive cards. I finally e-mailed them all and told them my dilemma. Now they either feel guilty or disgusted with me for worrying about it. So the most recent thing I have done is e-mail them all and say “I’m sending you money on your birthdays, anniversaries, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day. Expect it. If you don’t get it, let me know. Thanks.” And if the robber of my mail needs it worse than I do, then I guess he/she can have it. 1111-08

I’m of the opinion that if you have to beg people to accept your gift, it’s time to stop giving those gifts.   This isn’t just etiquette amnesia but also indicative of ingratitude that takes a rather blase approach to accepting a gift.

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie November 6, 2017 at 4:06 am

OP, you send them money FOUR times a year. On Valentine’s Day? Halloween? Stop sending money over year round, unless the kids need it. Since they don’t cash the checks quickly, it’s safe to say they don’t.
Even though they don’t live at home any more, you’re still raising them – and at the moment you’re raising them to expect money at least four times a year, every year. No wonder they stop saying “thank you”, they have been turned into spoiled brats.
Best advice: stop sending them money!

I also want to offer a different perspective: I read that you send money on birthdays and anniversaries. Is it possible your children/grandchildren might not be appreciative of the money, because they feel they receive it to compensate for your absence on their special day? It’s quite possible they would prefer a visit or something more personal that shows them you are invested in their lives. I don’t remember the amounts of money I got as a child, but I do remember that one aunt that was always there, and the other aunt that always picked a gift that was exactly what I liked and I wondered how she knew. Their attention to my life was and still is more important than money.
Even today, I receive money once a year from a relative that almost never visits or calls. And if we visit her, the conversation is exclusively about her unless we constantly steer the conversation. I do call her up to thank here every year, but I also stopped being invested in my relationship with her because I feel she’s trying to buy my affections.
I’m not saying you are doing this OP, but your kids might think you are.

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saucygirl November 6, 2017 at 7:13 am

Totally agree about attention over money. I’ve mentioned on here before about how I don’t speak to my dads wife. Which means I am not invited to their house for holidays. Which means my father will never spend a holiday with me. Instead he sends a check. After years and years of this I told him to keep his check. I told him that if we would never celebrate a holiday together until his wife had died, then we might as well ignore the holidays. The next year he spent one night of a holiday with me and then he started sending the checks again. When my daughter was born he started sending her a check too. In 8 years he never bought her an actual gift. So last year I got pissy again and told him that if he couldn’t even bother trying to pick out a gift for us, then lets just stop. He said he was a horrible shopper and was sure he wouldn’t get us something we liked. I told him that wasn’t the point. That first of all, we had good manners and would never tell him that we hadn’t liked it. And that the anticipation and surprise had value in it, as well as just knowing that he tried. I also mentioned that he didn’t spend that much money, so even if he really failed, it wasn’t that big a loss. 🙂 He bought gifts, and he nailed it. And despite the amount of effusive thanks and the great conversation that came out of the gift, he has already said he is going to send a check again this year. And it seriously makes me want to stop doing holidays with him again.

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Pat November 6, 2017 at 12:54 pm

I think you’re going a bit overboard dictating what kind of gifts are acceptable to you.

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Saucygirl November 6, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Pat, im not dictating what kinds of gifts are acceptable to me. I even said i didnt care what the gift was or if i even liked it. i was just agreeing with maria that for some people, holidays are actually about being with fsmily and friends and creating memories with time and gifts. If you dont feel that way, cool, you dont need to. Just make sure to send thank yous for the checks you receive ?

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PJ November 6, 2017 at 5:49 pm

I think so, too. Money is still a gift, as simple and generic as it sounds. Saying “the gift you chose to give is worthless to me. Either give me something better or stop trying at all” would be a good way to ensure an end to the relationship in my family.

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Ange November 7, 2017 at 1:01 am

I agree. All this drama and rudeness over someone who is making an effort yet they try and say they have good manners….

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lakey November 7, 2017 at 2:14 am

My suspicion is that saucygirl’s problem with her father isn’t really about the gifts. It’s seems to be about the lack of a meaningful relationship. He seemed to think that sending checks was a substitute for spending time with her. Then when the child was born, he sent the child checks. That is so meaningless to a young child. Sending checks is a lot less effort that getting an actual gift. I suspect that that is what bothers saucygirl. The lack of effort on her father’s part.

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Saucygirl November 7, 2017 at 6:53 am

exactly! I was agreeing with Maria, that for some people, a check is not a substitute for being there and the op may have a different problem then the etiquette one she thinks she has. Did I give too much personal info? Apparently. But the basic message was still there

Pat November 7, 2017 at 12:06 pm

I agree. But criticizing someone’s gift is not going to make them want to spend more time with you. Perhaps both sides need to make more of an effort to connect.

Lilac November 7, 2017 at 9:55 am

Take the checks and put them in a nice college fun for your daughter. Or suggest that your dad start one for his grandkids. My dad isn’t much of a gift giver but he started putting money in funds for his grandkids instead of buying gifts. I made a big deal out of how great this was at an early age and my kids never missed those presents. They thought getting money put into a college fund each year was pretty amazing. And REALLY amazing now that they are in college and their fund is paying for almost everything. This was a great way to teach them to be appreciative over the long term and to respect someone else’s way of being generous.

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Jd November 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm

I’m right there with you Marie!

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Melissa November 7, 2017 at 9:55 am

I think you’re on to something, because it appears that the family lives locally, if they tried the option of picking up/delivering cards. That was very odd to me, the OP says no one has time to constantly make trips to pick up cards or to be home when cards are picked up. Which means that they aren’t celebrating at least birthdays together. (I doubt many extended families celebrate Valentine’s Day, Halloween or anniversaries together, but they also aren’t really gift giving occasions from a parent to adult child or grandchild). It also appears to mean they must not spend much time together otherwise. I might go a while without seeing my family, but if they had a Halloween gift for me, I’d probably see them within the month or so anyway, so I would get it then if the rest was an issue.

The entire letter is just odd. Calling your grandchildren “offspring”, being surprised that the Post Office loses mail, mailing cash, sending a cold email to your family instead of just communicating the actual issue, all of it is just ODD.

Re: Saucygirl’s post below, I know what she means. I don’t think this was a case of trying to dictate gifts, it’s a case of trying to have an actual relationship instead of accepting payment in lieu of a father/daughter/grandaughter relationship. If they had a relationship, and dad was bad at gifts and gave money instead, it would be a different conversation.

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Just4Kicks November 6, 2017 at 4:12 am

While my children are not perfect angels, they know how important manners are to me as they were with my mom.
I have told them from little on up that if someone compliments them on their manners it means more to me than someone telling me I look nice ect.
I try to do the same with their friends also.
If they have a friend over and they are polite and well behaved I make sure I mention it to their folks when they get picked up.
There have been a few kids over the years that after they left our house, I’ve told my kids they are not invited back.
One example is my two oldest boys asked if they could have the two young ladies they were dating over on a Saturday to hang out and watch movies and have pizza.
Sure! You can have the living room all day and dad will run for take out for dinner.
My boys go pick up the ladies and as I have not met either of them, I wait by the door when I see the car pull up.
They come in and I introduce myself, “Hello Ladies! Please call me Mrs.K…its so nice to meet you both! Please make yourselves at home.”
As I’m saying this, I am extending my hand for a handshake.
These little snots look at my hand, then each other and ROLL their eyes and smirk at each other.
Oh, HELL no.
I gave my sons “the look” and walked away, I was furious.

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admin November 6, 2017 at 6:46 am

That type of rudeness would be the kiss of death for me, too.

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Just4Kicks November 6, 2017 at 8:07 am

Oh, yes.
My kids all know what “the look” and raised eyebrow mean.
When they came back from taking the ladies home that day, as soon as they walked in they both said, “Yeah, Mom….we know….we KNOW “.

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staceyizme November 6, 2017 at 10:04 am

I salute you for walking away. That is a pet peeve of mine. If you are in my home, at my event or dining out with me as the host, your overt hostility will earn you a look that women have perfected from time immemorial. If you aren’t immediately set to rights, your choices are to leave or to realize that you aren’t going to have a very good time… In your case, you could simply have had them go home and try another day. Painful, possibly. But a good boundary to set for any potential young visitors, with the potential for redemption if they come to their senses.

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Leigh November 6, 2017 at 9:34 am

Just4Kicks please tell me your sons made better choices immediately after that….please? Please????

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BellyJean November 6, 2017 at 9:59 am

That’s just sad… 🙁
Golly gee – I’m so sorry to be welcoming. Please, oh, please be too cool for warmth and caring. Ugh.

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Dyan November 6, 2017 at 10:39 am

OH nooo ok you little snots…you will never come into my home again and pizza is OFF hahaha

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Just4Kicks November 6, 2017 at 8:07 pm

Thank for all the backup!!! 🙂

Well, except for maybe one or two since then, yes, my sons have made better choices in the ladies they date.

As far as dinner that night, instead of asking the “ladies” what THEY wanted for dinner, I asked our two little ones what they were hungry for.
My husband said “Wait…I thought we getting what our guests wanted? Nope.”

I told my sons I don’t care if you end up marrying those two, they are never welcome in this house again!!!
How dare they roll their eyes at me?!? So disrespectful, I still get angry when I think about that. Yes, Mom….we KNOW Mom!!! 🙂

And, I’m sure you can guess if they thanked us on the way out…

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staceyizme November 7, 2017 at 12:47 pm

It can be mortifying for someone to be so rude to you in your own home. But if you’re still angry when you think about it, maybe it’s time to put it into perspective. It shouldn’t still rankle too much if some time has passed. And if you have sons, it’s likely that some future partner of theirs will get crosswise with you over mannerisms or the “right” way to handle children, housekeeping, money, time and faith. I honestly worry about in-laws and extended family these days because there often seems to be so much conflict and concomitant distress around these issues. Seeing your way clearly in these instances seems to be mostly about being clear on where you do (or don’t) have the prerogative of choice. Always in your home, yes. I’ve never believed that anything was to be gained by allowing others to treat one badly. Beyond that, it sure seems to be more complicated, these days.

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Just4Kicks November 8, 2017 at 3:46 am

@Stacyizme: If the subject is brought up in conversation, yes, it still makes me angry, but I don’t have voodoo dolls in the girls likeness I stick pins every morning. 🙂

Juliet November 6, 2017 at 4:59 am

WOW. I have so many responses.
1) Send Gift Cards. It’s not cash, it’s not a check, they are immediately usable and can be used online as well.
That’s my first response because it is hard to change life-long beliefs in gifting and cash is not good, and checks are considered a burden apparently. If you want to ENSURE you do not receive complaints about the gift card, send Visa/Mastercard. There may be a fee FOR YOU TO PAY but it sounds like it would be well worth it for the peace of mind.

2) DO NOT SEND ANYTHING ANY MORE UNTIL YOU GET THANK YOU NOTES. This is ridiculous, you raised your children to write them so they know that is correct and should be taught to their children.

If no one calls people on the carpet for their bad behavior, WHY WOULD ANYONE CHANGE THAT BAD BEHAVIOR?

I LOVE the story in the archives where the niece expected “her” check every year for her birthday and she was all of ten years old I think. The Aunt had just had a baby and was home with her newborn, and hadn’t sent the niece the MANDATORY birthday check since she never got thank you notes. The niece CALLED THE AUNT to ask where the check was! She did NOT ask “how is my new cousin” either! Auntie asked Niece where was the thank you note from last year’s check to which Niece answered she didn’t send one. And Auntie replied so she hadn’t sent a check this year.

QUIT REWARDING BAD BEHAVIOR. And don’t just stop – LET THEM KNOW WHY. It may not make the slightest difference but IT COULD. Just stopping won’t make any difference cause they ave no idea why.

Good luck, a faithful mom and grandmother like yourself deserves gratitude and respect and doggone it, if they won’t give you your due, do not give them anything else. Your pocketbook will be fatter and your hurt will be greatly diminished.

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Anonymous November 6, 2017 at 7:13 am

Wait, when did giving gifts (monetary or otherwise) on Halloween become a thing? I wonder if the OP might have said “Halloween,” but meant “Christmas.”

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essie November 6, 2017 at 7:16 am

I have a more suspicious nature. When I read “Recently, two family members have asked if we sent them a card since we usually do, but they never got one”, my thought was that the ingrates DID receive the cash, but wanted more.

As for the recipients not cashing the checks for a while, I would like to mention that my MIL sends greeting cards (with a check) at least a month, sometimes THREE, before the anticipated occasion. Since we don’t allow the children to open gifts early and require them to send a thank-you note before using the gift, it will be a while before the check is converted to cash.

I’m also wondering what these children and grandchildren do to mark the LW’s special occasions and suggest the LW use that as her guideline for reciprocating felicitations.

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Lerah99 November 6, 2017 at 7:38 am

I’ll admit, there are things I did when I was younger that now make me cringe.

So I have two things to add:
1) Get their email addresses. You can email them amazon gift cards, send money via paypal, send money via google wallet. It’s fast, easy, and it’s all done online so you don’t have to worry about a sneaky postal worker or neighbor helping themselves.

2) Try sending a thoughtful card on Valentines and Halloween instead of money. Your words of love and pride will mean far more to them than the money. Even if they are too young and self absorbed to realize it now.

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Kris November 6, 2017 at 8:52 am

As someone who grew up religiously writing thank you notes for gifts, I will freely confess that I almost never send them anymore. I do always thank the giver, usually in person or with a telephone call. The reason I stopped writing thank you’s? I -never- received a single thank you from an elder. Thank you’s should be a two way street.

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staceyizme November 6, 2017 at 5:25 pm

Quite true that it should be a 2 way street! (But it’s a reason to stop sending a gift, not a reason to give up on sending your own thanks for a present, in my view. Trickier, if the offending parties DO send you gifts but not notes of thanks…)

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Yet Another Laura November 9, 2017 at 9:52 am

I’ve never understood the obsession with format. Calling someone to say thank you and saying thank you in person is still thanking someone.

There are people who have issues with printed address labels, and thank you cards, almost as if sincerity is directly proportionate to how time consuming the task of saying thank you is. It’s baffling, and a bit funny at the same time.

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Margo November 6, 2017 at 9:10 am

I agree that as these are your own children you can let them know that you would appreciate some form of thanks / acknowledgement. Or you can stop sending anything and let them know why.

If you are worried about cash getting stolen, could you do a bank transfer? It saves risking cash in the post or the delay in people cashing cheques.

Or even speak to your children and ask them what they would like. Have a conversation. Explain that you like to send money so they have choices about what to buy, bu that you feel ignored and disappointed when they don’t acknowledge or thank you. Ask them if they would rather you do things differently – whether that is giving physical gifts instead (which can feel as though you have given more thought to the gift), stopping gifts now they are adults, or limiting them to fewer occasions, sending cards and letters or making a phone call or visit instead etc.
And then consider – if there is no acknowledgement and the children can’t be bothered to cash the cheques, why are you still doing it? If it gives you pleasure, despite the lack of thanks, then carry on – but be clear with your self that you are doing it for you, not for the children, and adjust your expectations accordingly.But if not, then talk to them and change things.

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Outdoor Girl November 6, 2017 at 9:32 am

Do you have email transfer available where you live? If you do choose to continue to send monetary gifts, it would be a safer way to send money to them.

I’m not saying you should continue to send gifts, especially not for things like Halloween. But if you wanted to send something for Christmas or birthdays or anniversaries, it would be a safer way to do it.

They can send a quick note back when they accept the transfer so it would be very easy for them to say ‘Thanks!’ That might tell you everything you need to know; if they can’t even say thanks when all they have to do is type it as they accept your gift? Time to stop giving it to them.

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staceyizme November 6, 2017 at 9:47 am

I agree. Just because someone is related to you doesn’t mean that you automatically “owe” them gifts. I’d definitely stop. It sounds like it may be far too much and it’s definitely far too one-sided. It might just be time to ask yourself why you are so invested in giving presents to people who don’t thank you for the trouble? (And why cash? It’s pretty impersonal. Convenient, yes. Often gratefully received by the young, yes. But very pro forma for the number of occasions and recipients for which you’ve chosen to use that medium.) Maybe concentrate a bit less on the form of giving gifts regularly and see if you might not prefer to spend a bit of time with them here and there in ways that you know are meaningful. Or perhaps you have other, better ideas. Gifts don’t have to be cash. (Or objects.) And they are seldom customary or obligatory at the rate that you are giving them.

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Jazzgirl205 November 6, 2017 at 9:51 am

I wonder if this is a regional thing. Growing up, my dd resisted my etiquette training saying that none of her friends did these things. Honestly, I’m sure she thought we (dh and I) were either making these rules up as we went along or we were trying to replicate the 19th century (we do own a lot of antiques :^).
Well, dd got a hefty scholarship to a Jesuit college in the deep South. Her classmates write thankyou notes and her dates wear a suit when they pick her up. She actually called us up during her freshman year to say, “Now I understand. Thank you.”

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Nancy November 6, 2017 at 10:10 am

It sounds like the recipient of the money no longer classifies the money as a gift, but rather as an entitlement. I would shake it up a bit to remind them it is not an entitlement that they should count on. Let them know when they remember the etiquette training that the kids (but perhaps not grandkids) received, then the gifts may return (or not). The reminder is a good way to cut off the chance they are transforming into gimmie pigs.

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NostalgicGal November 10, 2017 at 4:21 pm

There’s one in the archives (I think in comments) that an uncle was diktat delivered on giving his two nieces and nephew 150 pounds (don’t have the little strange L in typefont) EACH for Christmas. Cash. He decided to give each 100 in a token/giftcard to a toy store and picked up three large stuffed animals (they had three different kinds) and boxed and wrapped those and put the tokens in the bottom. The youngest girl, 4/5, loved the stuffie and took off with it. Middle liked his and took off too with it. The oldest, a girl about 10, had stood in doorway, sulking and had complained that parental units told her uncle was bringing cash. She opened her box with prodding and tossed the toy across the room and left. He called all three kids back and retrieved the tokens from the boxes. He gave the younger two theirs because they’d also liked their toys. He looked the oldest in the eye and said ‘since you didn’t like your toy you don’t want your token either’ and kept it. I guess that meltdown was EPIC. He later cashed it for two 50’s and sent those to the younger two kids with the same sort of note, since your older sister didn’t want her gift, I’m splitting it between you. Would love to know how the next holiday went with them.

Another respondent said he was 10, opened a Christmas card from his grandfather, found a $25 check in it and said “Is that all?” Grandfather took it away from him and ripped it up. He learned fast.

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Josie James November 6, 2017 at 12:03 pm

I have the same problem so I have decided to stop sending monetary gifts through the mail because no one sends thank you notes any more. I was even tempted to send checks with no signature so they would contact me and I would at least know they got the check, but banks cash checks without signatures these days.

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lakey November 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm

It may be a personality quirk with me, but the checks not being cashed would bother me at least as much as the lack of a thank you. I hate it when I write a check and it doesn’t get processed for months, because it messes up my bookkeeping. As far as thank you’s goes, I am satisfied with a verbal, phone, or email thank you.

The way the OP’s situation is going, it sounds like they don’t need or want the monetary gifts. It isn’t worth the hassle, so I would stop. I hope that the gift giving is a two way street, and that they put some effort into thinking about her. I also hope that she has interaction with them outside of the monetary gifts.

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Zhalehhasti November 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm

This is an odd letter, it sounds like it’s about manners but then it really seems to be about difficulties in gift giving.

Re manners, they are your children, so call them and let them know in exactly the same way I assume you did when they were small, that you expect a thank you at the appropriate times.

As for the other stuff, no one seems to have time to give or receive gifts, nor does anyone seem to appreciate them, so stop. Why not spend the ten minutes going spare with a conversation about how everyone is doing?

Additionally, it isn’t an generational thing, my sixteen year old is wonderfully polite, as are most of her friends and her partner greets me, chats with me and makes a point to say hi to the dog, if not on the way in, then on the way out. When I was growing up in the seventies it was the same way, some really polite kids and some not so much.
If the kids are suffering from a spontaneous lack of manners, what’s the harm in a reminder? I find that much more amenable than the “expect gifts and tell when they don’t arrive” command.

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Huh November 6, 2017 at 1:02 pm

I agree with whoever above said send gift cards if you want to send something. Checks require you getting to the bank at their weird bank hours, which are generally completely unattainable for anyone working a 9-5 job.

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Jelaza November 6, 2017 at 11:18 pm

There’s ATMs. and these days, a lot of banks have apps where you can deposit your check by sending a photo through the app.

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lakey November 7, 2017 at 2:27 am

Just a heads up. If your bank has an ATM machine and you have an ATM card, you can deposit a check and withdraw cash. I haven’t worried about bank hours for over ten years.

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Pat November 6, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Please don’t send cash in the mail! I’ve had several things “lost” in the mail and never found – including a hand made baby blanket. It seems that in this digital age, the younger crowd does not think handwritten thank you notes are necessary. Frankly, I’m happy when I get a phone call, text, or email message from the younger generation acknowledging a gift. OP, do you see your kids and grandkids at the holidays – like Christmas or Hanukkah? If so, if I were you I would give gifts personally once a year. Hopefully, the kids/grandkids have enough courtesy to say thank you. If anyone asks, just say you never heard from anyone when you mailed or sent gifts, so you decided that this was the easiest way to make sure your gifts are received. End of story.

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ErindV November 7, 2017 at 9:44 am

I’m not sure if I qualify as ‘the younger crowd’, being in my mid-thirties, but I will say that my friends and I have discussed this and feel that hand written thank you notes are fairly obsolete and wasteful. In case you would like to attribute this opinion to laziness on my part, I can assure you I have this opinion in regards to both sending and receiving hand written thank you notes. Email provides the ability to write a longer message, send it earlier, and include pictures which is far preferable to me (and many people I know!). As an added bonus it doesn’t involve wasting paper and money on potentially expensive postage. (NB. I do not live in the USA and sending a single letter in our mail costs close to $1 for postage alone)
An example: a friend of mine had a baby not too long ago and I knit her new son a little shortalls outfit. She thanked me when I handed her the gift bag, which to me is thanks enough already, and she later emailed me a picture of her son wearing the outfit with a second thank you. Recently I received a hand written thank you note in the mail for the same item, and my immediate thought was: “This is a waste of paper, her time, and her money, and is completely unnecessary.”
If I have given somebody a gift in person and they thanked me for it then, there is no need in my mind to send further thanks in any format and if I receive an email or text I consider it a bonus. If I were to be given a gift by somebody, and thanked them graciously in that moment, later sent them an email with accompanying picture of the gift being put to good use, and the giver still felt miffed that I hadn’t thanked them a third time in hand-written form, that would be absurd.
For etiquette to survive it needs to adapt. In the same way that I am not offended when I enter a room and men don’t stand and bow to greet me, I think perhaps it is time to accept that an emailed thank you is equally as polite and indicative of gratefulness as a handwritten note.

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Pat November 8, 2017 at 10:12 am

I’m generally fine with an emailed or phoned thank you. However, I think you have to take the context and the person you are thanking into account. There are lots of elderly people who don’t “do” email or facebook or texting. Is the occasion for the gift formal or informal? Formal – a written thank you note is appropriate. Yes etiquette has to adapt – I’ve taken into account the habits and preferences of younger people – they need to appreciate the habits and preferences of older people.

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NostalgicGal November 9, 2017 at 10:22 pm

I am an old geekina and the act of taking time to select a card, write a real thank you in it, and sending it, makes it more special. I do some email but, at times it takes a card to say it right. Everyone should still be able to do the old ossified antiquidated version too. Of course thanks and how to express it is changing but. Learn it all and do it all. Multiple thank yous (different formats) for the same thing isn’t required but. If I know that person wants a mailed card, I do up and send a mailed card.

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Ripple November 6, 2017 at 1:43 pm

My brother’s three daughters were notorious this way (this was thirty years ago). I would send a check for Christmas along with individual cards to each girl; two would cash them pretty quickly (no thank you though) and the third would hold onto the check until the bank wouldn’t honor it any more and I’d have to put that amount back into my check register. At least she didn’t ask for a replacement check. But after a few years of this, I just stopped sending checks and would just send a family Christmas card. Amazingly enough, I never got any grief about no more checks.

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Noemie November 6, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Do you actually send cash with the card? It’s very risky and not recommended. It’s much safer to do a bank transfer or use a service like PayPal and send a card separately. You mentioned that they already contacted you because they didn’t get some of the cards, for all you know they have not been getting any of the cash you’ve sent.

As for the etiquette question itself, it looks like your gifts are taken for granted. That reminds me of a lady I knew who used to travel abroad frequently and whenever she came back home the first words from her grandchildren were “where are the presents”.

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Lori November 6, 2017 at 8:10 pm

My thought?
Next Birthday/Christmas/Halloween/valentines/whatever…
…send a nice card that states “$ have been sent to (insert local food bank or charity or animal shelter here) in your name” have a great day!

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CW November 6, 2017 at 8:54 pm

Does it bother anyone else that the OP refers to what I’m guessing are grandchildren as “offspring”? It sounds cold to me.

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ALM November 6, 2017 at 9:13 pm

Honestly, I’d just stop sending anything. It’s not being appreciated.

If you want to give anything, contribute to a college savings fund directly or buy the kids savings bonds. Spend time with them instead.

The kids should be taught how to send thank you notes (including for activities you do together), but I can understand that for parents with mostly online banking how you can go a long while before getting to the bank. It’s rude, but it’s life. Most ATM machines not attached to a bank won’t let you make a deposit, so it’s a special trip for one $10 check.

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Mindblown November 7, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Wow. First, my gown children have told me that they don’t want me to give them cash, that they make more than enough money and they want me to hold on to it so if I were to call them up and say come get your card with cash my kids would not come and do it because they don’t want me to give them cash. I don’t think they think that much about a card either with a few handwritten lines on it it doesn’t really mean a whole lot to anybody.

I feel like you have a sense of obligation for cards/cash to the people in your family that perhaps is a little misguided. And yes while I think everybody should be taught how to write a thank you card, I personally do not give gifts in order to get thank you cards –if I want to give somebody a gift, it’s because I want to make them feel special or loved or cared for or thought of and it means nothing to me whether I get a thank you card back or not. Therefore to me the moment I start griping about thank you cards is the moment I start realizing that I’m giving a gift for the wrong reason or that I feel obligated to do so and that’s when it stops.

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Elisabeth November 8, 2017 at 9:15 am

As a “young person”, I feel like writing thank-you notes for cash or checks is always very awkward. I still do it of course! But it is awkward.

My grandparents are very conservative. When I was a child or tween, they would often buy me clothes for my birthday and Christmas. However, since I am an adult, it’s harder to find well-fitting things for me that are also in my personal style. So, since I was about seventeen or so, they’ve been sending a check along with a practical gift (I got an excellent blender last year). Now, I welcome money! Especially being a college student.

But it’s hard to write thank-you notes without specifically mentioning something I plan to use the money for. Often, it’s not something they would approve of – one check went to my new tattoo fund, one check treated me and my live-in boyfriend to a nice date, one check went towards some new clothes that they would likely not have bought for me.

I usually tell them now that it’ll go towards buying books for next semester, but I graduate soon. I guess I’ll just have to thank them for their generous gift and ask how their lives are going.

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BagLady November 9, 2017 at 8:52 pm

But why lie? In my experience as a former young person who got monetary gifts from older relatives, they *want* you to spend the money on something special for yourself, not on necessities. You don’t have to go into detail about your plans for the money if you think that would make them uncomfortable:

Tattoo? “I’m saving this for a special treat for myself.”
Date? “I used it for a special evening out with my boyfriend” (if they don’t know you live together, that doesn’t give it away) or “… with a good friend” (if you want to keep the boyfriend thing on the DL with them).
Clothes: “I was able to buy some new clothes I had my eye on.”

If they are Nosy Parkers who will insist on knowing the specifics of your treat, evening or clothes, then you may need to go generic — “I promise I’ll use this for something extra-special!”

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Ron Sullivan November 8, 2017 at 10:07 pm

All else aside: Isn’t it illegal (in the USA at least) to send cash through the mail?

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NostalgicGal November 9, 2017 at 1:03 am

Well thank you cards are never underrated. I just got back from a business trip that was rather a disaster, yet a few bits of kindness were extended to me. I thus made sure before I left to go to a store and select some cards. Write them out (blank inside), and send them.

At the store a smaller child (maybe 8) and mom were there to get a pack of thank you notecards for her to do the same for a recent birthday. Daughter wasn’t enthused about it. I paused and said I was buying thank you cards. What?!?!?!? Yep. Even grownups DO this. I had had special favors done for me and I was selecting special cards to write my sentiments. Personalized words. Not just a blank thank you for the gift bit. I figured ten minutes a card. Did I do it all the time? Yes. She mulled it for a bit. I would like to know if she did hers or not.

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