Q. Two months ago, I received three wedding invitations and sent each a gift. I still haven't received a thank you. Have any rules changed with regard to sending a thank-you note?
A. No, the rule hasn't changed, but neither, unfortunately, have the brides.
Successful love creates an exaggerated feeling of worthiness, which leads all brides to believe that it's reasonable to expect everyone whom they, their parents and their parents-in-law know to spend large amounts of time, effort and money sending them presents, but that it is outrageous to assume that they can spare the three minutes each it would take to acknowledge the presents.
Therefore a little ritual has evolved, to teach brides that most valuable of life's lessons: Generosity should always be encouraged.
As the unacknowledged donor of wedding presents, you are in exactly the right position to get this training going. Telephone the bride's mother or, if your connection is to the bridegrroom, his mother, and say gently, "I know how busy Alexandrina must be now, setting up housekeeping, and I don't like to trouble her, but I wonder if you could just make a discreet inquiry for me. I'm so afraid -- you know how stores are these days, and I don't have to tell you about the postal service -- I'm worried that my little package might have gotten lost. Could you just find out if she got the china service for 12 I sent two months ago? I don't want to make her think she has to take the time to write or anything -- I just want to know if she got it, because otherwise I'll have it traced, and I'll have to let the insurance company know it was lost."
As you can see, this speech, a traditional one, is designed to drive Alexandrina's mother crazy. She knows that you know that Alexandrina and Scott set up house together three years ago, and if there's any housekeeping done by either one of them, nobody's seen any signs of it yet. By going to her, you have made it clear that you have traced the reason for Alexandrina's having no manners. But because you are voicing a practical concern and because you have placed yourself in the faultless position of a generous person who expects no return, she can't offer any defense.
You can probably hear the reverberations in your own living room. If it is the bridgroom's mother you have talked to, the scolding is administered in sweeter tones, or perhaps it is delivered through the bridegroom himself, who will be asked to "make her" write the letters. (The bridegroom, if he is clever, will then write the letters himself. However, this will only insure that the recipients will refer to him and his wife from that moment on as "poor dear Scott and that girl.")
In any case, you will soon have a stilted letter thanking you for "the lovely present," but not informing you whether it was appreciated, exchanged or broken, or even whether they know that you were the one who gave the china.
Your satisfaction should come from knowing that you have participated in a significant romantic tradition.