What I Think When I See “Dear Ones”

Dear Ones,
This may offend you. I am finally saying this after keeping my big fat mouth shut about it for awhile. I’ve been laughing about it with friends for too long. Time to AIR THIS OUT!

“Dear Ones,”

Ohhhh, boy, someone’s doing damage control
(gets popcorn).

“Dear Ones,”

Honey, please. Just talk to us like a normal person. I already feel condescended to.

“Dear Ones,”

Yes, dear one? What can I get you? Perhaps a cup of Precious Holy Person Tea? Do you take sugar, Sugar? None for me, thank you. I already got six cavities reading your salutation.

“Dear Ones,”

(Looks behind me) Huh? I don’t even know you, lady. Just talk to me straight.

“Dear Ones,”

Oooh, someone f’d up and we’re getting an apology in 3-2-1.

“Dear Ones,”

Well, here’s someone with tons of power who’s trying to butter me up like he doesn’t have any. Fish ain’t biting, mister.

“Dear Ones,”

Who started this syrupy trend and when can it die already?

Dear friends,
Dear community,
Dear church,

I reserve the right to use “Dear Ones” if I am conveying sad and grievous news and I am over the age of ________ (wisdom + maturity earned, YMMV). I reserve the right to react positively to it if it is being used by someone who has earned the right, through many years of building relationships, to assume that a whole lot of the people she’s addressing actually know her and are in community with her.
I reserve the right to continue to roll my eyes up to my hairline most of the other times I see it used.

File this under “Things Most Of The Elders In Your Community Are Indulging You Because You’re Just a Kid And You’ll Outgrow That Desperate Need To Sound like the Holy Mother Abbess” or “Please, Everyone Knows What a Bitter Person You Are, So Cut It Out” or just “Step Away From The Incense, You’re Getting Light-Headed.”

the-sound-of-music-jan-harley-as-mother-abess-photo-by-pamela-raith

10 Replies to “What I Think When I See “Dear Ones””

  1. But it’s not always that easy to find a salutation for a letter or email that doesn’t make you look overly casual/cute or overly formal. I found myself doing a websearch the other day, looking for one for an email going to the chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry the other day—the last thing I want to do is get her annoyed with me! No “Dear J,” no “Hi, J!” It ended up being “Rev. L,” because Forbes recommended it, but I’m still wondering if it came across as a bit stiff.
    And sending a letter to the congregation? “Dear Church” doesn’t work well, huh?

    Ah, well. There are worse problems for me to have, I’m pretty sure.

  2. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    The other salutation that makes my eyes roll back in their sockets is “My People.” As in, “Hear me, my people! Do this thing!”

    Just. No. Maybe in a spoken sermon, where folks have gathered consensually to fill the pews in a particular moment. But not as a general written form of address to a broad readership. I may be a (or someone else’s) swooning fangirl, casual acquaintance, or peer colleague — but if my butt is not in your pew, chances are I am not “your people” like that.

    It’s very annoying and tempts me to stubborn reactivity and unprofessional language.

  3. Oh boy, am I cackling. All I can think is that there’s no way you and I know the same Right Reverend Overuser of this Greeting, so how on earth did you manage to nail their psychological profile? [My lips are SEALED. – PB]

  4. Hmmm now I’m worried – I use (if I use anything at all) either Dear friends in Christ or My brothers and sisters in Christ the latter because I use it every week at “the peace” when I say “My brothers and sister in Christ Jesus the peace of the Lord be always with you. hmmm

  5. “Brothers and sisters in Christ” is a lovely, time-honored greeting whose only problem in an era of transgender awareness is that it is binary. Which opens another conversation, but in that greeting there is no dripping condescension the way I hear in “Dear Ones.”

  6. “Dear Church” sounds fine to me.
    “Dear Title + Name” is also great. Beats the over-familiar like, “Hey, Victoria…”

  7. Seriously. You better be careful who you’re assuming is “your people,” and how presumptuous is that, anyway?

  8. How do you feel about “pigeons?” 😉
    [I feel all warm and cuddly, of course! And I think of Zero Mostel in “The Producers,” which is always a good thing!-PB]

  9. I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH I WANT TO MARRY IT. I see “Dear Ones” and my teeth itch and my eyeballs pop out and that’s on a good day.

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