Divine Ms. Alix,
I recently received a birth announcement from a former colleague who I worked with briefly a few years ago. While I'm delighted at the birth of his child, I was surprised to be included since we did not socialize when working together and have not been in touch recently. I'd like to do something to acknowledge the new addition to his family, but I'm not sure what is appropriate. Help!
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Dear Properly Acknowledged:
How thoughtful of your former colleague to include you on his announcement list. I picture him absolutely thrilled, pleased as punch, and wanting to shout his news from the rooftops.
Given that your relationship was a professional one and that you didn’t socialize outside the office, I think that there is no need to send a gift. (As you might if the announcement had been from a good friend, or from someone with whom you felt a strong personal connection.)
Rather, I suggest sending a card with a nicely written personal message. Surely he would have included his return address on the announcement mailed to you, but if not you can try WhitePages.com to locate the information. And if it happens that you’re not able to find the address without too much difficulty, then consider yourself off the etiquette hook. In that case you’ve tried your best to send a note, but now are only required to think very happy thoughts for the new family and the best for their future.