Dear Amy: My grandmother is a traditional Southern lady who drilled her grandchildren on the importance of heartfelt, promptly sent thank-you notes.

I'm recovering from surgery and many people have been kind enough to bring me a meal as I recuperate.

I like letting people know how their kindness has blessed me, and I usually have a note in the mail within the week, but often the response I get is an uncomfortable, "You didn't have to do that!"

It appears that this courtesy may be viewed as being overly formal and may even cause embarrassment to the recipient.

I'm a millennial and many of my peers don't send these notes. Have the rules changed?

Amy says: When you write to someone, a timeless experience unfolds.

There is the act of writing itself, but also the "float" of a couple of days when the stamped message is traveling (literally), being delivered (thank you, mail carriers), opened, and enjoyed.

The rules have not changed. The "rule" being that when people extend themselves through acts of kindness, they should be thanked.

Some people snap a photo or video and post their thank-you on social media as a public gesture of thanks — and in this Instagrammy world, this also has the added benefit of reminding their followers that the giver is generous, but also that the recipient is "so blessed!" (and deserving). This is somewhat show-offy, but it is what people do.

Others will text or call.

But the handwritten note remains the gold standard of gratitude expressing.

Being told, "You didn't have to do that!" is vastly different from, "I wish you hadn't done that!"

In a semi-clunky way, your friends are acknowledging your gracious gratitude and the lovely old-school manners that your grandmother drilled into you.

You aren't embarrassing them — you're inspiring them.

Friend not listening

Dear Amy: I have a dear friend who is like a sister to me. We talk a couple of times a week over the phone.

I have a hearing disability in one ear that a hearing aid will not help. I do my best to listen carefully and do not have issues with anyone other than this one friend.

She is aware of my situation. However, nine out of 10 times when we talk, she is constantly doing something in the background that would be disturbing to anyone, not just a hearing-impaired person. She's either running the water to rinse off dishes, watering plants outside, or chewing and crunching her food in my ear.

When this happens, I have to ask her to repeat herself.

I can tell she gets annoyed with me, addresses my situation but says, "if I don't do this now, I don't know when I'll be able to talk."

This is a person who thrives on being self-important and feeling popular.

I've accepted that over the past 20 years and actually find it entertaining. Our friendship is important to me.

I've made suggestions, like, "Let's chat later when you're not busy," or I make up an excuse and say I have a call scheduled that I have to take.

How can I get through to her?

Amy says: I have a family member with hearing loss. Time after time, I've felt the frustration of trying to communicate, because his comprehension seems to be sporadic.

He finally explained to me: "If there is ANY background noise, that completely takes over and I cannot hear your voice."

Aha! You should say this to your friend, as many times as it takes. Her hearing might be fine, but her own comprehension seems to be faulty.

Send questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com.