DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a longtime friend who constantly texts me with information and photos about people I don’t know, their vacations, that their planes have landed, personal marriage information, etc.
This is done at all hours of the day. I don’t care about this mostly useless information. I used to feel obligated to answer every text, but it is wearing on me, so I have begun answering only the ones I feel are important. Then I get a text asking if I’m OK.
If she is telling me all of this, what personal information of mine is she giving out? How would you handle this? She is a very sensitive person, and I can be quite harsh sometimes.
GENTLE READER: You mean she is touchy. Sensitive would mean being sensitive to your feelings, interests and schedule. But she is not thinking, “Oh, Caitlin will want to hear that the Mumfords landed safely, but that their marriage is in danger,” or “I should wait until a decent hour before texting.”
Miss Manners would think this particular friend would be a good correspondent not to have. What she sends you is irrelevant, intrusive and boring, and you can’t trust her not to spread information about you.
If the friendship is worth keeping for other reasons, at least stop pretending to tolerate the gossip. The answer to whether you are all right is that you are, and to why you didn’t respond is that you had nothing to say about it.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Every Christmas, I am the recipient of a card from a really darling relative. This relation makes a charitable gift to a third party, and then sends me the card as an acknowledgement of her giving (which is noted as being done on my behalf).
It is, of course, a thoughtful gesture. However, I am unsure exactly how to respond. Do I thank her for thinking of me? Or do I thank her for thinking of others (the third party)?
I understand her charitable giving. What I do not understand exactly is how to acknowledge her efficiency in getting the two birds with one stone (a card to me and also a donation to a charity). I feel almost chastised for not having made the charitable gift on my own (which I recognize is not at all her intention). But how does one properly respond to such a “gift”?
GENTLE READER: Having always deplored this two-fer trick, Miss Manners finds this neither darling nor thoughtful nor truly charitable.
The advantages to the giver are obvious: money saved by counting the donation as also fulfilling the obligation to buy a present; the satisfaction of feeling doubly charitable, and a tax write-off besides. The recipient gets — nothing. Not even a choice of charities. Miss Manners has even been told of people being “honored” with donations to causes they oppose.
No wonder you are puzzled about giving thanks.
Still, you cannot politely ignore the gesture. Try: “Thank you for thinking of me. I hope that your favorite charity appreciates your generosity.”