DEAR READERS: I'm marking my 10-year anniversary of writing the "Ask Amy" column by rerunning some of my favorite Q-and-A's from a decade of advice. Today's column is devoted to the subject of giving.
DEAR AMY: I got married six months ago. My wife and I started sending out wedding thank-you cards promptly, but between a recent big move, working and trying to find a home, we have misplaced our list, and now I do not know how to handle writing the rest of the cards.
I can only remember some of the gifts that were given to us. What should I do with the rest?
I hope you can help us sort this out. — A New Husband
DEAR NEW: Before I answer your question, let me bestow upon you the "Ask Amy Medal of Gratitude and Good Intentions."
The AAMGGI is a high achievement. It only goes to grooms who write in with thank-you card questions.
You have given me ammunition for the scores of people who write in to me complaining that newly marrieds don't pay enough attention to the niceties. In a situation such as this, I think it's best to employ a combination of charm and honesty. Let's call it "charmesty."
First you should rack your brains to try to re-create your master gift list. Then call your folks and your wife's folks, as well as various bridal attendants, to ask them to supplement your memories. If you registered at a store, they could help you track down some givers.
After you've arrived at a master list of sorts, you need to contact each guest whose gifts you're unsure of. Write a note saying that you and your wife have lost track of your gift list. Say something to the effect, "We are trying to figure out which fabulous gift came from you, and rather than call in "CSI Matrimony" to dust for prints, we wonder if you could confirm what you gave us so that we can thank you properly. This is pretty embarrassing, but we hope you'll understand."
I think people will be tickled that you are trying to get this straight. I know I am. (2005)
DEAR AMY: I live in the suburbs of Baltimore and attend church weekly. My husband and I have an annual combined income of $70,000 to $75,000 a year, and we contribute $20 weekly in the collection.
I am amazed at the number of people who put a $1 bill in the collection basket. Maybe they don't realize that the money in the church collection has to pay the priest or minister, keep the air conditioning working so they are comfortable and, of course, pay the mortgage, among other things.
This criticism is not meant for seniors, who are on fixed incomes and cannot afford to increase their donation. It is meant for the singles and families who can afford to pay more than $1 for all that their church does for them.
Would you please comment on this? — Generous Giver
DEAR GIVER: According to my calculations, you are contributing 1.4 percent of your annual income to your church. I don't want to quibble, but that is well below the customary 10 percent that you would be contributing if you were tithing.
I mention this because I want you to know that snooping around in the collection plate is not only unseemly but also misleading. Many regular churchgoers pledge considerable amounts to church operating expenses. This money comes to the church in checks enclosed in envelopes, which are (thankfully) sealed.
Some church members demonstrate stewardship in other ways. In my hometown church, a handful of men recently volunteered their time and sweat equity to put a new roof on the church building. Many others contributed food for meals for those rare times the men ventured off their ladders. The sight of this was truly inspiring.
For some people, a dollar or two makes a huge statement, especially when they find other ways to give.
One positive way to express your support for your church would be to involve yourself in the stewardship committee. You will then be in a position to encourage others to give (2004)
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamytribune.com. You can also follow her on Twitter askingamy or "like" her on Facebook. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.)