Legend: A mix-up with Christmas cards results in an embarrassing situation.
Example: [The Independent, 2000]
Now, let me tell you something which really, truly happened to a friend of a friend, last Christmas. Her friend is a busy advertising executive and ran out of time to buy presents for family and close friends. So instead she decided to enclose some rather generous cheques with her Christmas cards, scribbling the message: "Have a lovely Christmas but, if you don't mind, buy your own present this year!"
A little impersonal, but actually fairly practical, she thought. Except that a week or so into January, having not received the customary thank-yous from her relatives and friends, she found all the cheques in a drawer. In the rush, she had neglected to enclose them.
Origins: When it comes to dealing with our culture's biggest holiday, one can't cut corners without risking disaster, says this legend. The story of the misplaced checks serves to warn us that the shortest route is also the one most fraught with danger.
Gift-giving is an integral part of the holiday season, and one is expected to expend not just money on the endeavor, but time and effort too. To write a check or enclose money in a card is to distill the process down to only one aspect of the tradition, arguably the least important. One, in effect, puts an explicit pricetag on a relationship, making a cold but straightforward assessment of that person's worth in the giver's life. It is for this reason etiquette frowns upon the
Especially at Christmastime, a gift of cash is seen as an expression of all that's worst of the season: what is supposed to be the joyous, openhearted process of delighting loved ones with treasures secretly longed for is debased into the sterile discharge of a social
One further element of the tale deserves comment: the sex of the transgressor. Traditionally, during the holidays, our culture stresses activities which are still seen as more a woman's province than a man's. Cooking, decorating, baking, shopping, card and letter-writing, entertaining, and
Another tale that turned up in our inbox in 2003 works the same side of the street by using a different mailing
Finally she received a message from a prospective employer that explained the reason she hadn't heard from anyone else. It read: "Your résumé was not attached as stated. I do, however, want to thank you for the vegetable lasagna recipe."
Last updated: 5 December 2013
Viner, Brad. "Let Me Tell You a Story About a Friend of a Friend." The [London] Independent. 21 December 2000.