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Q: Missing wedding present? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Missing wedding present?
Category: Relationships and Society > Relationships
Asked by: pootypootwell-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 08 Nov 2002 22:42 PST
Expires: 08 Dec 2002 22:42 PST
Question ID: 103274
I was married four months ago, and one pretty good friend didn't send
a gift, at least, not that I know of. I don't expect people to give
wedding presents --that's not the problem at all. The problem is that
I worry she actually did send or deliver a present, it was somehow
lost, and now she's thinking I'm impolite for not sending her a thank
you note.

I did receive one present in the mail that was unidentified, and my
friend is actually the only one on the guest list who didn't send a
gift. I hesitate to ask her -- isn't it impolite to say, "Did you send
me this gift? Or any gift, for that matter?"

I've read through Miss Manners and several wedding etiquette books,
but I don't see a definitive answer. Some people say that asking
someone if they gave you a present is impolite, while others say that
asking if someone received your present is also impolite. We might
just both be waiting around, trying not to be rude.

Is there a perfectly correct way to handle this? Thank you!
Subject: Re: Missing wedding present?
Answered By: dannidin-ga on 09 Nov 2002 02:55 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi pootypootwell-ga,

My recommendation to you: Send your friend a thank you note for the
anonymous present! (Another possibility, which I discuss at the end of
the answer, is that of thanking your friend for *a* present, without
specifying which one.)

Now let me logically prove to you that this is your best option...

I will analyze your possible modes of action and the possible
benefits, or harm, they can bring you. The way I see it, you have
three possible options:

1. Ask your friend if she is responsible for the anonymous present;
2. Say nothing to your friend; or
3. Thank your friend for the anonymous present.

Of course the reason you do not know what to do is that in the
different possible scenarios, i.e. your friend having sent the
anonymous present or not, each mode of action may alternatively be
beneficial or detrimental to you! But obviously, under these
conditions of uncertainty, what you would want is to minimize your
risk of something disastrous happening. In other words for each mode
of action you should be looking at the "worst-case" scenario, and you
will choose that mode of action that gives you the best (or "least
bad") worst-case result. (In the mathematical discipline known as
"game theory", where such problems are analyzed, this is known as the
"maximin solution"...)

So: For option number 1: In the best case, your friend will indeed
have sent the anonymous present. She will be happy to receive the
thank you note, and everybody's happy. However, in the WORST case,
your friend will have neglected to send you any present! She could be
offended by what she perceives as a lousy attempy on your part to
reprimand her for this negligence by making up some story about an
unidentified present arriving in the mail (who sends unidentified
presents??). You yourself might then be offended by this unexplained
negligence on her part - why did she not send you a present? She is
after all, as you say, a "pretty good friend". However nobly you try
to portray yourself as someone who "doesn't expect" people to give
wedding present, at this point where she is offended about your simple
attempt at being polite, you might actually start feeling bitterness
and resentment towards your friend.

I am of course exaggerating slightly... All I'm trying to say is I
think option number 1 may have potentially disastrous effects and
should be avoided.

Now, for option number 2: If you say nothing to your friend, in the
worst case she could well have been the one who sent the anonymous
present! Or, as you say, she could have sent another present that got
somehow lost in the mail. Again, I don't know your friend, but in a
society where sending thank you notes for presents is the norm, she
may well be offended by your silence. The effects of this will
probably not be as bad as for option number one, but still there is a
potential for trouble.

Which is why we come to option number 3: You thank her for the nice
present she sent (and mention, as if in passing, the "funniness" of
her having failed to identify herself as the sender). What could go
wrong? If she is indeed the sender, again there is no problem. If she
didn't send any present, she can only be relieved at this "miracle" of
someone else sending an unidentified present and saving her the
embarrassment. If she sent another present that got lost in the mail,
she will probably tell you about it. If this was an expensive present
or one with high emotional value, she could be slightly distressed at
this loss. Can she be extremely upset about this? I think it's up to
you, knowing her, to consider how likely this is, but on the face of
it I will say that this is a pretty safe mode of action for you.

I said I would discuss at the end the possibility of just thanking her
for *a* present, to avoid her realizing that her present got lost and
being upset about it. I think this is not a good idea, because if she
didn't send any present she might again perceive this as an attempt on
your side to reprimand her by "thanking her" for a nonexistent

I hope that this cold logical analysis, from someone without an
emotional involvement in the matter, has been helpful to you. Even if
you disagree with me, maybe it will have been my advice that made you
realize what the correct mode of action is - sometimes we need people
to tell us what to do to realize that we knew what to do all along...
If you have any questions please ask for clarification, and I wish you
all the best with sorting out your dilemma!

pootypootwell-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Dannidin completely understood what and why I was asking, and gave me
just the analysis and recommendation I needed!

Subject: Re: Missing wedding present?
From: katan-ga on 09 Nov 2002 05:53 PST
Please ignore this theoretical stuff above.Life is not like
The person is a pretty good friend.Do you not talk personal with 
pretty good friends? Why did you wait four months to talk to your
pretty good friend.
If you really are that insecure ask a relative  or a   pretty good
friend  to talk to your friend and simply explain what happened . Just
the truth.
Nobody can get hurt , nobody can hurt anyone .Everybody might just see
simplicity of it all when it is finally brought out in the open.
Good Luck with this and the future.
Subject: Re: Missing wedding present?
From: aceresearcher-ga on 09 Nov 2002 06:42 PST

Dannidin has given you some great advice, and I encourage you to make
use of his suggestions. Since many wedding presents these days are
sent to the recipient directly from the company where they are
purchased, the only thing I would add is to say, "You know, the
store/manufacturer forgot to include a gift card for you."

Good Luck!

Subject: Re: Missing wedding present?
From: katan-ga on 09 Nov 2002 07:59 PST
Dearest Pootypootwellga,

Confused?I would not want to live my life according to Dannidinga or
aceresearcherga . Can you imagine . Life like a multiple option menu ?
Talk to your friends and other loved ones about this little problem
and life in general.That's good advice.
Again , best wishes.

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