DEAR MISS MANNERS: I will be completing my graduate studies during the next college semester, and I’m unsure as to what the proper etiquette is regarding the mailing of announcements.
I would like to share this accomplishment with the professors who guided me during my undergraduate career, but I am uncertain as to what would be appropriate.
The college I attended during my undergraduate studies is a small liberal arts college in a very tight-knit community. Should I send one to the department chair to share with every professor? Or do I mail one announcement to each individual professor? Is it even appropriate to send an announcement?
GENTLE READER: Where, on a mere announcement, is any acknowledgment that those professors contributed to your academic success? Wouldn’t sending one serve as well for someone whose message is, “Nyah, nyah, you thought I couldn’t do it”?
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Even Miss Manners is not so cynical as to think that graduation announcements are ever sent for the latter purpose. But she wonders what their purpose actually is. Those friends and relatives who would be interested to know of the achievement most likely already do. And the vulgar notion that announcements serve as invoices for presents is mistaken. Presents are always voluntary. All that is due is a letter of congratulation.
By “sharing (your) accomplishment,” Miss Manners hopes you mean that you want to express your gratitude for the professors’ contributions (which, incidentally, you might want again as you explore the job market in their field). An announcement can accompany — but does not substitute for — a letter of thanks. That is what you should write, either to each professor or to the chairman, naming those individuals who helped you.
Well-intentioned by impolite?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I are car racing officials, and most of our friends are volunteers, drivers or crew members in racing. For that reason we decided to have our wedding at the start/finish line of our local track.
We ensured we had enough sparkling wine and cupcakes for the number of people who would be attending at the track, so everyone would feel welcome.
However, we also sent out specific invitations to our close friends and family for an off-track reception. In those, we specifically said we didn’t want any gifts. Beside the fact that we don’t need anything, we did this because we knew that some friends who could probably manage coming but might not have if they felt obligated to bring gifts. So I thought in this case, while we were not following established etiquette, we did the polite thing. Did we?
GENTLE READER: Because she so often has to deal with bridal greed, Miss Manners is reluctant to condemn this particular transgression. She will give you a pass, which she might as well, considering that the deed is already done.
But the rule against any such formal statement (as opposed to word of mouth) exists because hosts are not even supposed to be thinking of the potential for presents when they issue invitations to weddings or any other event. Furthermore, this well-meant tactic is no longer effective. Sadly, Miss Manners is often asked whether “No gifts” really means “Cash only.”
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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