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AUNT WHO GETS NO THANKS CONSIDERS NOT GIVING GIFTS

Dear Abby: I finally worked up the courage to ask my sister why her three school-age children never write thank-you notes for the gifts I have given them.

She told me they were so busy with their school work and other activities, they didn't have the time. Then she added, "Since you have no children of your own, you can't understand how hectic their lives are. Besides, they always thank you in person when they see you." (Her attitude was, "Get a life.")Abby, doesn't she realize how much time it takes me to shop for those gifts, gift wrap them and then deliver them? I find the time to fit it into my busy schedule - children or not.

I do it because I want to - not because I want anything in return. I realize that not everyone cares about written thank-yous, but I do, and they know it. All it would take is 10 minutes and a postage stamp. I try hard to give her kids gifts that matter to them. Why can't they do something simple that matters to me?

I'm steamed enough to stop giving them gifts altogether.

It's too bad my relationship with my sister has soured over something that would have been so easy to fix.

- Sad Auntie

Dear Sad Auntie: Children cannot be expected to know what they have not been taught. I have always emphatically stressed the importance of writing thank-you notes - promptly - but I now realize that not everybody shares my opinion.

Dear Abby: I never thought of myself as a prude until now, but I suppose that is exactly what I am.

A divorced woman moved into our lovely little neighborhood last year. All was fine until recently. Now a lover has moved in with her. They are both in their mid-40s.

My question: What do I tell my children? I wouldn't think of telling them the truth in this situation. Could I be forgiven if I said the man is renting a room in her house? Thank you.

- A Prude in Abilene, Texas

Dear Prude: Don't lie. Your children will probably assume that the couple is married; then you won't have to tell them anything. You're welcome.

Dear Abby: Would you please do elderly people a favor and mention in your column that when people telephone, they should please allow a little longer to answer?

If the television is on, the call can blend in with the program. When it dawns on the viewers that the telephone ringing is their own, they may have difficulty getting up. By the time they get to the phone and lift the receiver, the caller has hung up! This is very frustrating. Not only have I missed the key part of my program, I have been left wondering who is calling.

We are not sitting at desks, you know. Please give us elderly people a little more time to answer the telephone.

- Elizabeth Heath,

Waycross, Ga.

Dear Elizabeth: Your letter rings a bell with me. There can be many reasons why it's difficult to get to the phone - and age and infirmity are only two of them. Let it ring a minimum of 10 times!

Dear Abby: If Leslie Barnes of Dallas doesn't provide an explanation as to why men's and women's clothing button from opposite sides, here is what I have read:

"When originally introduced, buttons were expensive and therefore used only on the clothing of the upper classes. Wealthy women were dressed by their right-handed servants, so the buttons were located on the left side of garments.

"Men dressed themselves, so the buttons were placed on the right side of garments."

- Bernie Altman,

Culver City, Calif.

Dear Bernie: Thank you. Your explanation appears reasonable - so I'm squirreling it in the back of my mind in case I'm ever on "Jeopardy."

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)