Q: I made a couple of dishes and a dessert a couple of months ago and took it to a friend’s house across town to help her feed family who came into town for a funeral. I thought by now she would have returned my dishes. I haven’t received a thank-you note either. Can I call her and ask about my dishes or do I have to wait for her to return them to me or contact me?
A: A death in any family is a very difficult time for that family. For those who open their homes to out-of-town family members, or serve meals in their home for family members during the funeral events, it is an even more challenging time. There are a lot of additional events taking place in a short time. While I agree a thank-you note is definitely warranted and perhaps a bit overdue, your friend may be experiencing other problems of which you are unaware. Furthermore, everyone has been extra busy during the last couple of months because of the holiday season.
It was so kind of you to prepare food and take it to your friend’s home to help feed her out-of-town family members. Yes, it would be appropriate for this friend to return your dishes. However, because that has not yet occurred, it would be even kinder if you would just give your friend a call to see how she is doing, then offer to come by and pick up your dishes at a time convenient for the both of you. You want to be sure not to make her feel guilty for not already returning your dishes to you, and you do not want to make her feel it’s her responsibility to do so.
The bottom line is this: Part of the Golden Rule is people do nice things for other people, especially friends, without expecting anything in return. In this situation, you can feel good about yourself for making food items and delivering them to your friend during a very difficult time in her life.
Continue to be her friend by contacting her and politely offer to pick up your dishes yourself. Making this contact with her is another way for you, her friend, to show her you continue to care about how she is doing as well.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to email@example.com.