DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have five kids, all under 6 years of age. The youngest are 7-month-old twins. A family in our church has offered to watch them so my husband and I can go out on a date. We haven't been alone together in a year. We have no family or friends nearby to offer respite.
I would like to accept their kind offer, but two things are holding me back. First, I don't think they realize the enormity of the task, and it feels like we might be imposing.
Second, I don't have anything to say to my husband. A date would be awkward and most likely consist of "relations." I like my husband, but I'd rather be left alone. What would you do? -- FRAZZLED MOM WITH NO SUPPORT
DEAR FRAZZLED: Before placing your small children in the care of others, invite the family over to see exactly how much work would be involved in watching them. Then discuss with your husband what date night will entail and see if you can agree on what would be a fun night out.
You definitely need a break, and some alone time should be something to look forward to. That it isn't is of concern to me. It's possible you could benefit from marriage counseling to help re-establish a line of verbal communication. And equally important, because you suspect the evening "might" result in relations, make sure you have birth control to prevent an accidental pregnancy.
DEAR ABBY: In this season of graduations and weddings, I would like to urge the honorees to send proper thank-you notes to friends and family who give them gifts and money. Time, money and preparation are put into these events, and the effect is spoiled when guests have to contact stores or scrutinize their bank statements to learn if their gifts were, indeed, received but simply not acknowledged.
Thank-yous aren't difficult. Some "rules": Rather than text or email, write a note on paper and mail it with a stamp via the U.S. mail. If you do, you will be forever known as "that polite young couple" or "the young man/woman who sent the nice note."
Three lines are all that are needed: "Thank you for the ----. I look forward to using/enjoying it when we entertain/grill/vacation/walk the dog, etc. Again, I appreciate your thoughtfulness." That's it!
If showing good manners isn't incentive enough, remember this: These are the people you will be inviting to weddings, baby showers, and your own children's graduations and weddings in the not-so-distant future. A little courtesy goes a long way. -- APPRECIATIVE IN HITCHCOCK, TEXAS
DEAR APPRECIATIVE: While letter-writing may always seem like a chore to some people, there are occasions when a written message is the proper means of communication. Acknowledging the generosity of others is one of those times. Failure to do so indicates that the person's gesture was of so little importance that it was not noticed by the recipient. And frankly, it also indicates a distinct lack of manners.
DEAR ABBY: How do you politely tell friends and relatives who are guests in your home that your computer and TV are off-limits? Once they take control of the remote or the computer, they seem to go crazy and change all the settings to their preferences and never put the settings back when they leave! What can I do, Abby? -- FRUSTRATED IN LEWIS RUN, PA.
DEAR FRUSTRATED: "Remind" any guest who uses your electronic equipment that it must be returned to your original settings before the person leaves your house. If you have already done that and it hasn't worked, then you must find the courage to say, "I'm not letting anyone use my computer or remote control because I have a hard time getting the settings back to where I put them after you leave."
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.