Dear Abby: I would like to make a plea to your readers. All of you who still have plenty, please consider those close to you, around you, around the country and around the world who do not. With hard economic times here for many, plus wars and natural disasters, many people have lost loved ones, jobs and homes — and happy memories have been replaced with traumatic ones.

Please do not ask them to reciprocate with expensive travel, food and gifts.

Do not expect them to "forget" what they have lost.

Do not use alcohol to "celebrate" the holidays with them.

Do not flaunt what you have that they do not.

Do not complain about the little things that bother you.

What CAN you do?

Do express that you understand their difficult times.

Do suggest name-drawing for gifts, exchanging homemade gifts or donating to charity.

Do open your home to them as a respite — no strings attached.

Do provide practical gifts to replace those lost to natural disasters or to comfort those at war.

Do express your love and support.

Do help loved ones get mental-health support if they need it.

Do volunteer your time at a shelter, rebuilding project, school or day care, senior care facility or military support group.

Do be thankful for what you have. — Hoping for Good Holidays, Stillwater, Okla.

Dear Hoping: You have offered practical suggestions for this holiday season, and I hope my readers will keep them in mind. I would like to add one more suggestion to the ones you listed: Do offer a willing ear to those who need a chance to vent, and although it may be uncomfortable to hear, don't try to minimize their feelings. A lot of people have experienced a record amount of trauma in the past few years as well as recent months. Although you may not be able to solve their problems, sometimes it can be enough just to listen, affirm what they're saying and offer hope.

Dear Abby: Could you please give me some advice regarding proper wedding etiquette when it comes to giving the bride and groom a blessing?

Our daughter was recently married, and her maid of honor and best man each gave a small speech with a toast. My husband was planning to give them a blessing and say a prayer over them. However, before he had a chance to get the microphone, an older friend of the family got hold of it and gave a blessing she had absolutely no authority to give. She went on for five minutes while my husband fumed the whole time. He felt like he was robbed.

We have not discussed our feelings with this woman and are unsure how to handle this situation. We don't want this to happen again at our next wedding. — Robbed in Illinois

Dear Robbed: Your question is a first. I have never heard of "blessing etiquette" or an order of priority for offering them. As far as I'm concerned, the more prayers and blessings a couple receives, the better — and your husband should have stepped up to the plate and offered his own.

P.S. The way to prevent someone from grabbing the microphone and speaking out of turn would be to control who has it and have a list of scheduled speakers.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. © Universal Press Syndicate