DEAR ABBY: Valentine's Day is approaching, and I wanted to write concerning those of us who are single by choice, by circumstance, because of the death of a spouse or divorce.
This holiday was set aside to celebrate love and lovers, but it can be a lonely time for people who find themselves without a significant other. Valentine's Day is so commercialized that one is bombarded by ads for gifts, candy, etc., from every angle, which only enforces one's aloneness. The message is subtly sent -- but received loud and clear -- that an individual without a partner is worthless.
I would like to urge your readers this year to include those who are alone through divorce or widowhood in their celebration of this day. Make it a day on which they too can feel special, loved, and a part of things rather than isolated, forgotten and alone.
And don't stop there. All holidays can be lonely for those who have lost loved ones. Include these people in your holiday plans. You will be blessed by sharing, and they will be uplifted to know someone cares. -- SOLO IN TEXAS
DEAR SOLO: Thank you for your letter. Readers, if you're feeling down because you don't have a special valentine, the surest cure for the blues is to do something for someone else. Call someone who's alone to say, "I'm thinking about you."
If you know someone who's in a nursing home, take some flowers. Put your discarded items in a box and call your favorite charity. Donate some blood. Listen to your teenager. Tell your parents you think they're great. Forgive an enemy. Send a donation to a food program that benefits the needy.
And if you love someone, tell him or her now; please don't wait until next Valentine's Day to be a sweetheart again.
DEAR ABBY: I have had an embarrassing problem ever since grammar school. I bite my nails and cuticles until they bleed. If the pain is severe, or I see a piece of cuticle hanging, I stop until it heals. But then I start up again. How can quit this ugly habit? -- MANIC IN GRANDVIEW, MO.
DEAR MANIC: You have a problem that I'm told is shared by one in 12 adults. There is more than one solution for it, and the common denominator in all of them is motivation. Some helpful suggestions submitted by readers in years past:
(1) "What helped me to finally stop at age 45 was that I sat down and tried to figure out why I kept biting my nails. I finally realized it was because I couldn't stand the feel of a rough nail catching on the fabric of my clothing.
"Now I keep emery boards, from coarse to fine, beside my favorite chair, in my purse, in my glove compartment and by my bed. If I feel a snag, I immediately smooth the offending nail. It has eliminated my need to bite."
(2) "My high school teacher included some interesting lessons in personal hygiene in his biology class. One day, he asked us to scrape under our fingernails and look at what we removed under a microscope. Seeing face to face what had collected under there was enough to stop me from biting my nails. I haven't chewed them in nearly 30 years."
(3) "What stopped me was a job I landed as a teenager. I became an usher at a movie theater. My job required wearing a uniform, including white gloves. Not long after I landed the job, I noticed I had nice nails. The gloves were what did it."
(4) "Finally, when I was in my 30s, I asked my doctor to suggest a cure. He talked to me about obsessive-compulsive disorder and prescribed a low dose of a very safe drug used by people with O.C.D. In three weeks my nail-biting stopped for good."