Thanks...for nothing
December 17, 2010 9:26 PM   Subscribe

My dad wants me to say thank you for a wedding gift that we never got. Should I even though it totally pisses me off?

My husband and I were married on June 26, we were a little late in sending out our thank you's in mid-September, and I'm aware of this. My evil step-mother didn't fail to make a snide comment about this to me when we saw them at my brothers wedding in August. I explained that I was waiting to get our professional pictures back from our photographer because I wanted to include them in the thank yous. I also got a "innocent" email from my father asking if he had received his gift which was a decent sized check a couple weeks after the wedding. He knew we had because we had cashed it but I had assumed I would say thank you when we sent out the cards.

Well, I just got an email from my father, stating that my step mom was with her sister's the other night and they were all talking about how they received a thank you from us but one of them hadn't. Here's the problem, I don't think we ever received a gift from them, hence the reason why we never sent a thank you.

We are about to go visit this entire side of the family for Christmas. I hate my step mother because she's an evil beast but I don't hate her family. I'm not sure if I should just suck it up and send the thank you even though, I'm pretty sure we never got anything from them or do I tell my father such. It's annoying because this is making ME look bad which is just reinforcing the shitty opinion my stepmother already has of me. But is saying that we never got a gift making me look worse?
posted by lannanh to Human Relations (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Why even address the hypothetical gift? Just send them the card that you sent to everyone else, with the pictures you were planning to include, and thank them for the gift of their presence.

If they weren't there, say something like "Mr. Lannanh and I really appreciated your good wishes, and wanted to share some pictures from the wedding with you. We're looking forward to seeing you this Christmas!"
posted by arnicae at 9:33 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

You were still within the three month recommended guideline for thank-yous. Ignore step-mom and dad.

Send a thank you card to the person you didn't thank. Explain that you are sorry for the lateness of the reply, but that you unfortunately lost track of just what was sent. Apologize for the mix-up and thank them for their warm generosity and for being with you on your special day. It's honest...and I doubt you'll change stepmonster's opinion of you.
posted by inturnaround at 9:37 PM on December 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

They weren't at the wedding and we never received a card from them. So why should I thank them for basically nothing. And it's also to make the point to my father and step mom that we weren't the ones who failed.

Or just suck it up and smile through clenched teeth?
posted by lannanh at 9:37 PM on December 17, 2010

Whatever: gift or not, I sent out thank yous with pics. I think you have longer than than the six weeks your family gave you as a grace period after the wedding to send out your thanks?

You don't have to see this side of the family, it's not like you value your stepmother anyway, so why do you care what she thinks of you? [I've been in the same situation and that's what I told myself to get through a similar shame spiral over apparent gifts that never actually materialised.] And if the other relatives are okay with you, the above message should be enough to register that their commentary on the thank yous has been relayed, and that you are sorry to have missed thanking them.
posted by honey-barbara at 9:38 PM on December 17, 2010

Have you considered that they might have mailed you something that was lost, stolen, or not properly attributed (by you?) Why else would they comment on their missing thank-you note?
posted by charmcityblues at 9:42 PM on December 17, 2010 [7 favorites]

Oops, didn't preview. They didn't come, didn't bring a gift? That could have been good information to include in your qu.

Tell your dad/SM in the nicest possible way, that you didn't receive a gift or even an acknowledgment of your wedding from these folks. It can get relayed around the same way their crap got relayed to you. Let other people pursue the drama. They seem to get a kick out of it, you however are going to sail on serenely enjoying your new marriage.
posted by honey-barbara at 9:42 PM on December 17, 2010

You're never going to win the battle of getting them to be nicer to you. You can only when the I'm-a-better-person-than-you battle in your own head.

So, how do you win that battle in your own head? Claiming you never got anything and refusing to send a thank you card, all the while knowing that you're not 100% certain? Or just sending a dang card that says "thanks for your warm wishes on our special day?"
posted by salvia at 9:43 PM on December 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

I would ask your father to find out what they sent as you never received it and you want to call the store that sent it to find out what happened. I would not send a thank you for something you don't know what it was or that you received. I also wonder why they were sitting around talking about thank you notes. Maybe they never sent anything and they were cuffing it for step-mother. You know, a good offense, accusing you of not thanking them, is a great defense.
posted by AugustWest at 9:43 PM on December 17, 2010 [6 favorites]

It sounds like a gift went missing, which is one of those situations etiquette doesn't deal with well. But now that you know that there apparently was a gift, and a thank you was expected, you can and should touch base with those people and apologize for not having thanked them, but you don't seem to have received the gift.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:52 PM on December 17, 2010 [8 favorites]

Tell your dad "I'm only in the habit of sending thank you notes to people who give me gifts."
posted by oreofuchi at 10:16 PM on December 17, 2010

I'm with jacquilynne on this one. Saying you never got a gift if you didn't isn't being shitty, it's being honest. If the step-aunt is lying, then don't play her game. If she did in fact send a gift or a check, she should know it went missing so she can track it down or cancel the check.

How skilled are you at the "kill them with kindness" routine? Imagine this scene at Christmas:

When you see the step-aunt, take her aside (bonus if your stepmother or another of her sisters is within earshot), and be super-sweet and concerned. Say something along the line of, "You know, Aunt Judy, I feel really uncomfortable about bringing this up, but... my dad mentioned that you were looking for a thank-you note from us for a wedding gift. And although we are taking longer than I hoped on getting our thank-yous out, I admit that I didn't have you on our list. The only reason I even mention it is because if you shipped something to us, it never arrived and I would just hate for a package to be sitting at UPS waiting for someone to claim it."

At this point, step-aunt has a couple of options:

- React with real concern, and track down the gift she really did send.
- React with fake concern, and claim to track down the gift she never sent, and then mail a small check with a note like "can you believe FedEx lost the package, well anyway, congratulations"
- React with fake concern, and then never speak of it again

But however it goes down, you can look yourself in the mirror over the whole thing. You didn't get walked on, they didn't get away with badmouthing you unfairly, and you played nice without having to lie just to keep the family peace. And bonus points for having handled the situation yourself, without having to go back through your dad.

Because, not that you asked for help on the family dynamics, but it sounds like your dad is positioned between you and your stepmother right now as a go-between—and whether it's by design or by default, it's probably preventing you and your stepmother from reaching your own level of détente. He doesn't need to be the bottleneck for that; it will eventually strain your relationship with him and force him to pick a side, which can't end well.
posted by pineapple at 10:28 PM on December 17, 2010 [27 favorites]

Nthing a thousand times that some detective work is in order. Find out what was allegedly sent and see if you have it. If not, get the message to the people who sent the gift that it wasn't received. I support pineapple's wording. The only way that could go wrong is if step-aunt did not, in fact, send you anything AND did not, in fact, say anything about not getting your TYN.

Totally approach it from the point of view of concern and resolving the issue and don't let your family dynamic issues that don't involve your step-aunt play into it.
posted by hansbrough at 10:45 PM on December 17, 2010

Doing the detective work will end the confusion, just sending a card will moot it.
posted by rhizome at 11:23 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I sent a gift to some friends that never arrived due to back ordering weirdness. I wasn't at the wedding and didn't realize they hadn't received my gift for months and I felt awful about it. So it might be an honest mistake.
posted by fshgrl at 12:38 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Contact the person directly and treat this like a big misunderstanding (which it very well may be!)

Apologize for not sending a thank you and and explain you never received anything. Be concerned about the loss of their gift. Explain you didn't mention it sooner because you thought perhaps they had forgotten to send something and you didn't want to make them feel awkward, yada yada.

Is it possible they contributed on a gift you were given and their names were left off the original card??

Either way, by-pass your Dad and Stepmother and deal with this directly. Deal with this like the mature and gracious person that you are.

Good luck unraveling the mystery!
posted by jbenben at 1:22 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely ok to tell your father that you never received something and ask if he can get more information so you can figure out where something went wrong. My aunt and uncle made a similar comment to my mom about not having received a thank you, but when I told my mom we hadn't received anything we realized that aunt thought uncle had sent something and uncle thought aunt had sent something. Pretty easily resolved. Similarly, I sent a friend a thank you note for something we did receive and she then asked if we'd received the second component of the gift. I told her no, we had not, and through her detective work she figured out that she had ordered something for us that was backordered, and when the item came in stock she had already closed the credit card she used for the order and the order was canceled. We had to do detective work on at least two other gifts, and no one got offended. So give it a shot. If she didn't really send a gift but is now claiming to have done so, she's the one who should be embarrassed.
posted by Terriniski at 5:08 AM on December 18, 2010

Or just suck it up and smile through clenched teeth?

You do it because you give someone the benefit of the doubt that they sent something and the good of thanking them for doing it outweighs everything else, especially the very small inconvenience of sending it if they didn't.

And if they didn't send something and they said they did, maybe the note will shame them for lying. Win-win.
posted by inturnaround at 6:36 AM on December 18, 2010

It's best to send a thank you to everyone who comes to your wedding, regardless of whether they bring a gift/card. Coming to the wedding is itself a bit of a burden - and you never know who cannot afford to bring a gift as well.

I don't know about people who did not come to the wedding or send a card. But, considering that writing a bland thank you isn't a lot of work (the hard work is when you are trying to not be bland for people you care about), it seems easier to send a simple card than argue.
posted by jb at 7:08 AM on December 18, 2010

Explain you didn't mention it sooner because you thought perhaps they had forgotten to send something and you didn't want to make them feel awkward, yada yada.

I wouldn't explain this. At this point, having been told that they think they sent a gift, but not having received a gift, it's better to go forward under the assumption that they did send something, than to try to explain that you thought they were the type of people that might have not sent a gift for whatever reason -- that way lies the road to greater insult.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:31 AM on December 18, 2010

No gift = no thank you note. Tell Dad "We didn't receive a package, so if they sent something, perhaps they could let us know; maybe it was insured." In a thank you note, you would mention the gift and you can't do this. Send them a holiday card with a picture.
posted by theora55 at 7:38 AM on December 18, 2010

They weren't at the wedding and we never received a card from them. So why should I thank them for basically nothing.

You said you liked them, right? And presumably they were wishing you well, even though you didn't receive a card or a gift from them? So why not just send them a card telling them about your wedding, including those pictures, and leave it at that. Thanking them for their good wishes is gracious and vague enough to cover everything from the card that they didn't send to just the fact that they are family, you like them, and they were privately wishing you well.
posted by arnicae at 11:48 AM on December 18, 2010

Etiquette does kind of say you should write in your thank you note which specific gift you are thanking them for. Otherwise it looks like you can't remember / can't be bothered writing a personal note / never got a gift.

Also, if my gift never arrived I sure as hell would want to know.

So if you like these people, do them a favour and let them know you heard they sent you a gift but it never arrived.

If they didn't come and didn't send a gift, I'm not sure what you're supposed to thank them for. "Thank you for your kind thoughts"? Seems a bit odd when you aren't telepathic.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:07 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding that they may have sent a gift and you never received it, in which case you are coming across as incredibly immature. Act like an adult - find out what the gift was and tell them that you're so sorry you never sent a card, but you never received a gift. If they are lying and never sent one, then the truth will come out.
posted by echo0720 at 3:27 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite] from my father asking if he had received his gift which was a decent sized check a couple weeks after the wedding. He knew we had because we had cashed it...

So why should I thank them for basically nothing.

Because you expected more - participation, attendance, wrapping paper with a card, whatever - does not negate their gift to "basically nothing."

They gave you a gift, and you haven't yet thanked them.
posted by panmunjom at 3:40 PM on December 18, 2010

My reading was that those are two different gifts -- the one from the father was a cheque, and then there's a mystery gift that wasn't received from another relative.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:50 PM on December 18, 2010

But now, re-reading the question, maybe you're right. If it's the father and step-mother's cheque she's talking about and she's not treating it like a gift because it was just a cheque, that's pretty shitty. A cheque is a gift, and it gets a thank you like any other gift.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:51 PM on December 18, 2010

N-thing that sometimes mailed gifts get lost in shipping - this has happened to gifts I have sent. Touch base with sender directly in a diplomatic way to figure out if that's what's going on.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:02 PM on December 18, 2010

Just to clarify, the check from my father was a separate gift which we thanked them for with all of our other thank yous we sent in September. I guess I'm just sharing these points to illustrate how touchy this subject is and how my parents already seem to have a really shitty opinion of me and that I'm ungrateful bitch.

The gift in question most likely would have been a card with a check from relatives I rarely see or speak with, they were not present at the wedding. It's my step monsters sister. I want to email my father to tell him we never received anything but I feel like this is just being passive aggressive. As much as it irritates me, it's just easier to say thank you for the gift and put this whole thing behind me. Especially since we havetosee all of these people next week in person.

Sorry if the original question wasn't clear, the state of annoyance wasn't helping me organize my thoughts very well. Thanks everyone for the opinions on both sides.
posted by lannanh at 11:11 PM on December 18, 2010

No, do not send a thank you card for a gift you never received.

Instead, ask them if they did indeed send a gift. "Hey, so-and-so mentioned that you send a gift but we never received it ... did you get insurance or a return receipt (etc) on the package because we should track it down!" Or, alter sentence appropriately.

I see no reason, reasonable or unreasonable, to send a note thanking someone for something they didn't do (or that you don't know they did). Make it right by investigating. Either there was no gift and that's that, or the gift should be found! Who wants them to be out of money and you to be out a gift? AND a thank you card? The whole card idea is just silly.
posted by iguanapolitico at 12:13 PM on December 20, 2010

You do come across as somewhat, ahem, angry and catty, in your posts in this thread.

Try slapping on some thick southern charm for a while with your family. Even if it's fake, it will make them like you more if you aren't staring daggers into them all the time and saying things with a condescending attitude. They are your family, like it or not, and you have a LOT of years left with them.

Grow up a bit, suck it up and act like a nice Lady. A woman who is younger than them and less experienced in life. Even if they grate on you. Good things come when you feed positivity into it. Don't pick petty fights. Yes, that means sending a thank-you note if someone asks you to.

Definitely follow up with them to make sure it wasn't stolen or what possibly happened to it, but for goodness sake, it's a card and a stamp vs. years of a growing snowball of stupid pent up animosity.

Goodness gracious.
posted by Espoo2 at 7:04 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, thanks for the extra condescension Espoo2, I wasn't getting enough of that already from my family.

Anywho, thanks to the rest of you for your insight and advice. I ended up bringing it up to my father when he picked me up from the airport and we were alone. He then asked my stepmom to inquire about it with her sister and low and behold, it wasn't me she was talking about, it was my brother, who got married 3 months after me. Apparently, the sisters had had several bottles of wine while they were discussing the matter.

I feel somewhat vindicated but still, I'm assuming the step-monster just figured it was me because we hate each other.
posted by lannanh at 12:06 PM on January 10, 2011

« Older No, this is not a word problem.   |   Whether to contact an acquaintance re: kids and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.