Check, please

Check, please

It seems that I haven’t been controversial in a while, so I decided to pick a topic that is close to everyone’s heart — the art of gift giving. I was thinking of consulting Emily Post before writing this column, but I have nixed that idea. Though I probably should, because I am currently on yet another endless drive to the Island of Long. Just wanted to clarify that I am not complaining about sitting in traffic again because it is still faster to get to the Island of Long in traffic than it is to Israel, so it is all good.

When Husband #1 and I got married, there was one person from his block who didn’t give a gift. We always thought it was strange, because it was someone who was usually very generous (as opposed to the people who gave wire hangers as an engagement present, but that is for another time). According to Emily Post, even if you don’t like the gift, you are supposed to be gracious and send a thank you note. In any event, my brother got married 10 years after we did, and at his aufruf we were using a bencher from our wedding, and out fell a check from the people who we thought did not give us a gift. Yes, this was 10 years later.

We had many questions. The first, and most important in Husband #1’s mind because he is so OCD when it comes to cashing checks and balancing the check book, was, “How did they not notice that we never cashed the check? And, if they did notice, why didn’t they ever ask why we didn’t cash the check?” Sorry, that was two questions. I called the person who gave us this gift, and this was the conversation.

“Hi! It’s Banji Ganchrow. I just wanted to apologize for never sending you a thank you note for your very generous wedding gift. The truth is, we only got it this past weekend. Somehow, it ended up in one of our wedding benchers and we only found it yesterday.”

“That is so funny,” the gift giver replied.

“Speaking of funny, Husband #1 wanted to know how you never noticed that we didn’t cash the check?”

The gift giver responded. “Oh, we don’t really pay much attention to that sort of thing.”

Alrighty then.

But the most amazing part of the story? She sent us another check! (Yes, it was for the same amount. Yes, it was extremely thoughtful and generous of her, and yes, I did send her a thank you note.)

Fast forward to Son #3’s wedding. If people are going to be kind and considerate enough to send a gift, I write it down, so the kids can write a thank you note. This past weekend, they got a check in the mail. “I am pretty sure those people gave you a gift already,” I said.

Husband #1 goes to the list. (I really hope other people who make simchas have a list, and we aren’t the only ones who have one.) Yup, they gave a gift. The kids looked through the older checks, because with technology, you just take a picture of it and it magically goes into the bank. Turns out, the signatures on the checks looked different. Which can mean several things. 1. The wife wrote one check and the husband wrote the other check. 2. The wife didn’t tell the husband that she sent a gift. 3. The husband didn’t tell the wife that he sent a gift. 4. The second check was more than the first check, which means whoever sent the second check likes us better. 5. They had a really good time at the wedding because the bigger check was sent after the wedding.

In any event, I texted the folks in question and told them the “funny story” about the two different checks and the two different amounts. I asked what to do about the second check. In the end, the very generous gift giver “venmoed” (is that a word?) the difference. And I asked permission to write a column about the story. (Yes, I did thank her profusely first for sending the difference…it was totally unnecessary, but very much appreciated by the Oreo and his wife receiving the gift.)

So what is the message here? 1. All gifts are greatly appreciated 2. Not everyone balances their checkbooks. And 3. We should only share in simchas in good health and happiness, but, if I am being honest, 4. What would have happened if I didn’t have a list and my kids cashed both checks? Hmmmmmmm….

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck has much more to write on the subject of giving gifts, but she will save it for another time.

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