Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: For 20 years I have gone to considerable thought and expense to carefully select nice holiday cards to send to a varied client base. I have tried to be considerate and sensitive to any cultural and religious differences.

My Christian friends wanted explicitly religious cards, the Hanukkah cards were not religious enough, and the middle-of-the-road "Season's Greetings" were termed "wishy-washy secular." My own family is a feuding stew of different faiths.

This year? I've had it. I sent Thanksgiving cards with the following quote from Theodore Roosevelt: "Let us remember that as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds."

It bothers me that a simple delivery of good wishes was met with such a resounding show of bad manners and ill will, and I see no point in continuing. My mother says I expect too much of people and that this will backfire. I'm past caring and have no more cheeks left to turn. I agreed to abide by your advice. What say you? -- STEAMED IN VAN NUYS, CALIF.

DEAR STEAMED: I don't blame you for being offended. The complainers were extremely rude. If you've sent cards only out of fear that if you didn't it would somehow "backfire," then you shouldn't have sent them. And if anyone is presumptuous enough to raise the subject, tell that person it's because your selection was criticized last year, so this year you decided to save your money.

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DEAR ABBY: I'm a 43-year-old woman with one adopted 16-year-old child. I have never had children of my own, and I'd like to try again. My 44-year-old husband feels we're too old now, and of course society thinks we're too old, too. We have friends whose kids are having kids. Do you think we're too old? -- OPEN-MINDED IN MICHIGAN

DEAR OPEN-MINDED: Yes, I do, but what I think doesn't matter. This is a subject you should discuss at length with your OB/GYN because a pregnancy at your age could be risky not only for you, but also your child. And if your husband doesn't feel up to the challenge, his wishes should be considered.

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DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother of a 7-year-old girl. Before we moved to a rural area, my daughter attended a private school where she flourished. However, after three years in public school here, she is struggling academically and her self-esteem has been challenged.

Every day I agonize over whether we ought to move or stay. I have a great job, wonderful friends and the lifestyle is comfortable. But the schools are awful. I remember how my daughter used to love going to school, but now she hates it.

I can't decide if we should move back to a larger city where there are more educational choices, or if we should remain here. Have you any thoughts on this? I want my daughter to gain stability, but I don't know if this is the place because school is such an important part of people's lives. -- MUST CHOOSE IN MARYLAND

DEAR MUST CHOOSE: What's more important to you -- your job, friends and lifestyle, or your daughter's future? Once you have answered that question, your choice will be easy.

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For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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