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Miss Manners: How to ask indirectly about a missing gift

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Dear Miss Manners: My boss (owner of the business) is extremely generous and thoughtful. He really enjoys remembering staff birthdays, hiring anniversaries and holidays with generous gifts and bonuses. Usually, these come as emailed gift cards or something delivered to my home. He enjoys doing this personally; it's not delegated to an assistant.

Last summer, after several years with the business, I resigned from my position to care full-time for my ailing parents. The timing was difficult, as our business was heavily impacted by the coronavirus and related staffing issues. I agreed to stay on part-time until my replacement started.

My hiring anniversary and my resignation date coincided. In our farewell, my boss said he was sending a gift to me to recognize both.

It has been a few months. Nothing ever arrived.

I realize in the chaos and stress at work, he may have just forgotten, although that's uncharacteristic for him. I am worried that he thinks I received something and did not acknowledge it. I am also concerned that he may have spent a significant amount of money on something that was never delivered.

I feel rude asking about it, but also want him to know if something he paid for never arrived. Common sense tells me to let it go, but it occasionally nags at me. Do I have a responsibility to notify him of the unreceived gift?

Your common sense has led you astray.

The concern — and it is a serious one — is not whether your former boss got value for his money, or the reputation of the Postal Service. The issue is your own reputation: You do not want him to think that you are rude or that when you left the job, you severed all future relations.

Miss Manners’ fondness for handwritten letters is not merely due to her liking the smell of paper and ink. Gracious correspondence can soothe many a feeling and solve many a problem.

You cannot ask what happened to your gift, but nothing stops you from penning a chatty letter updating him on your life and thanking him for his many kindnesses while in his employ. If he did send a present, then the absence of any mention in such a long letter will make him wonder if it arrived. If he did not send one, it may perhaps inspire him to do so now.

Dear Miss Manners: My daughter is getting married and, due to covid-19, the plans have changed considerably. The wedding will only have the wedding party and immediate family, and the reception/celebration will be sometime next year with a renewal of vows.

What is the furthest out we can have the celebration and still be appropriate? Does it matter if we call it a reception or a celebration?

The answer in normal times is one year, but with the pandemic upending social interactions, Miss Manners is willing to extend the deadline to any time before your daughter’s children are old enough to ask whom the party is for.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

2021, by Judith Martin

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