Does a Graduation Announcement or Invitation Mean a Gift is Called For? Maybe Not
By: Maralee McKee
Greetings and Happy Monday!
A surprise arrived in my mail; it was a high school graduation announcement from a precious young lady. I remember the day she was born! I also remember her attending one of my children’s etiquette courses when she was no more than eight or nine. I held her announcement in disbelief.
I keep thinking, “It just can’t be that she grew up that quickly.” If you have a child who’s already graduated, you’ll know much better than I, but the TV commercial is right, isn’t it? “Life comes at you fast!”
In My Family
We love counting down the days until our next celebration! To help I downloaded a clock application to our computer home screen. I input the date and we (especially the boys!) enjoy seeing how many days it is until the big event. “Four more days until I turn 7, Mommy,” Corbett announced excitedly as he ran to me recently after he looked at the clock. Now that his birthday is past, we’re counting down the days until Marc’s birthday. This year he turns 13.
Today the clock reads, “77 Days until Marc Becomes a Teenager!” All the other countdowns I’ve anticipated with joy; this one I look at with an odd avoidance. Kind of the way I pass a dead bug in the house. I know it’s there, but I cringe with apprehension about having to deal with it. I can’t come to terms with the fact that his childhood is speeding to the end.
52 Hours of Labor
Marc’s birth was biblical in its intensity. It took me 52 hours of hard labor to bring that boy into the world. By hour 35 I was unable to feel anything but dread of another moment of the pain, and yet at any instant I can transport myself back to the very moment at the end of hour 52 when the doctor said, “One more push, Maralee. One more push! Try this time as hard as you can and it will be over.”
New power came from within me; I gave all I had. At that exact moment I heard his first baby gurgle. Odd, the doctor had said, “One more push and it will all be over.” She should have said, “One more push… and it will all begin.”
For the life of me, it couldn’t be… hasn’t been… almost 13 years since that instant. Now, there’s just 77 childhood days remaining. I shouldn’t cry over it; I should rejoice for this new chapter he’ll enter. I’m just not there yet. I don’t want to lose my little boy.
If you think about it, there’s a good reason why a graduation ceremony is officially called a “commencement.” It’s the recognition of a new day full of brand new possibilities. No wonder it’s celebrated by students, their parents, and loved ones. A beginning full of possibilities needs celebrating. It helps dry the tears of the passing of the former stage.
Monday Morning Mentoring
If you have a graduate in your house, or, like me, receive an announcement, here are eleven great tips for how you can join in celebrating the new beginning with ease, sincerity, and graciousness!
1. Believe it or not, a gift isn’t required if you receive a graduation announcement. Announcements are simply the family’s way of “announcing” the news to the people in their circle.
2. While a gift isn’t required, you can certainly send one if you’d like. A card of congratulations and best wishes is always appropriate to send in reply to the announcement.
3. If your son or daughter is graduating, here’s something to keep in mind. Because so many people believe they “should” send a gift to the graduate when they receive an announcement, it’s gracious to limit sending them to relatives and those you’re in regular contact with. Here are two ways to help decide if you should send someone an announcement:
• If you send holiday cards and wouldn’t normally send one to this particular person one, then you wouldn’t send him or her a graduation announcement.
• You wouldn’t send a graduation announcement to anyone that the graduate wouldn’t recognize in person. They’re sent to most family members, but to those outside of the family, they’re only sent to people the graduate also knows, not to someone who has a relationship exclusively with the parents of the graduate.
4. If you know of someone who is graduating and you didn’t receive an announcement, you can still send a card or gift. I’m sure the graduate and his or her family will be honored and happily surprised.
5. If you attend a commencement ceremony or party, then you’ll want to bring a gift. You can bring it with you or have it delivered to the graduate’s home prior to the party.
6. Often graduates attend several parties in one night since their friends are all graduating with them. This is the one time when the guest of honor isn’t expected to spend the whole evening at his or her own party. Guests should arrive early to see the graduate before he or she leaves for the next celebration. The graduate should stay for the first 45 minutes to one hour of his or her own party to welcome all the guests.
7. Have the graduate send handwritten thank-you notes within two weeks of receiving a gift. Why handwritten? (You know your graduate is probably going to ask you why he or she can’t just e-mail or text their thanks.) It takes extra effort to choose, purchase, and wrap a gift. The little extra effort it takes to handwrite the note is giving equal honor to their gift, even if the gift was cash or a gift card.
8. Party decorations can be anything, but it’s nice when they focus on the next stage of the graduate’s life. Going off to the University of Georgia this fall? (Go Dawgs!!) Then decorate in the school colors—and don’t forget your cardboard cutouts of Uga the Bulldog!
9. Invitations to graduation parties are sent at least two weeks in advance. Invitations to the ceremony are sent up to six weeks in advance, especially to anyone who is traveling from more than 100 miles away.
10. Graduation announcements are mailed anytime between the day after and two weeks following the graduation. Why after? They’re informing your inner circle that you did graduate, not that you’re about to graduate.
11. One last tip for graduates: Do not register for gifts! Leave that for weddings and babies. As your manners mentor, I just have to tell you, it’s really tacky at this stage when Mom and Dad are still supposed to supply for your needs. When it comes to gifts, take what people give you with delight and don’t ask for things!
The most important etiquette of all: have fun and celebrate!
Now for all us moms: whether our children are graduating from kindergarten, high school, or college, as a dear friend said to me recently, “Dry your tears and be glad you’re the age you are, and your children are the age they are. In ten years, you’ll look back and do anything to be at this age and stage again!” I have some very wise friends. Thank you, Jane Horn!
I’m off to buy that graduation present this morning! I’ll see you on Wednesday for Reader Q & A. You’ll find out when your guest can chip in and help pay for a party and when you need to pay for everything!
Just a note: Summer is around the corner and I have lots of end-of-school activities for my boys and things around the house to reorganize before they’re home every day. In the next week or two you might not hear from me every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Plus, we might be taking a couple of short trips this summer. I know you understand! And that you know I’ll be back quick as I can!
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See you Wednesday!
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