Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Apologies, dear readers.  Etiquette is typically a Wednesday thing.  But when the baby spends all night on Monday and Tuesday crying, you're bound to find yourself a bit crazy with sleeplessness, making your bed the next morning (not that you slept in it) and telling your sobbing baby that you love him when you suddenly start sobbing yourself, which sobs you stop only to phone your husband and blame him because you are so HOT and just cannot cool down.  In the brilliant words of Joanna Goddard, "Your husband is not the enemy.  The baby is the enemy."  Anyways, all I could manage yesterday was to weep, read trashy magazines (imagining Taylor Swift with a new baby and leaky breasts instead of in that VMA Herve Leger number) and tend to the babe.  But it's miraculous what a normal night of sleep can do for a gal.  Back at 'em today.  Apologies have been extended to nearly everyone I encountered yesterday and I can listen to "Trouble" without becoming angry about Taylor Swift's waistline.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.  Pictured on custom Mr. Boddington's social stationery and surrounded by pieces of my grandmother's pewter collection. (Pewter is silver mixed with lead.)

And so - today I crossed off an item on my to-do list exactly 25 days in the making: I sent off a letter to the White House wishing Mr. Obama a belated happy birthday, and letting him know how proud Peter and I are that our first son shares his birthdate.  I'm hoping we'll get a note back that we can put in his baby book - I'll let you know if we do!

And here is the point of etiquette:

The only way to address an incumbent president, either in writing or in person, is as "Mr. President."  The only ways to sign a letter to the President are "Yours Respectfully", "Respectfully Yours" or "Very Respectfully."  Traditionally, it is not necessary to include the address of The White House on the front of the letter, but I saw a note on the White House website requesting that the full address be used (ahem, was that vetted by Mrs. Obama's social secretary?).  If you will refer to the first lady in the body of your letter, use "Mrs. Obama" or the "first lady" (not capitalized as it is a popular, but not an official, title).

Happy (belated!) Birthday, Mr. President.  And happy letter writing to all of you!


PS - Interestingly, as I was signing my note, my grandmother pointed to a photo of Mr. Obama on the cover of today's New York Times bending down to say hello to Yolanda King, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's only grandchild. She sighed and said, "I wish Mr. Obama didn't feel that he had to do everything for everyone."  She is a woman who refers to all living presidents as "Mr. Obama" or "Mr. Clinton" or "Mr. Bush", to show respect to them even in conversation.  She feels that there is a level of formality that should be observed by the President.  That when dealing with a small child, it's important both for the President and for the child for respectful formalities to be observed.  She suggested that Mr. Obama should have stood tall, and offered Yolanda King his hand rather than bending down to her.  At the risk of being offensive - I agree.  What do you think?  Tweet me at @primandpretty.