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by Abigail Van Buren

Cousins' Small Thanks Is Noted at Holiday Dinners

DEAR ABBY: My wife's first cousin died several years ago, but my wife continues to invite this cousin's husband and his two single adult children to our home every Thanksgiving and Passover. We don't hear from these people throughout the year -- not even a telephone call, yet they continue to accept our invitations. Moreover, they leave immediately after dinner. (Last Thanksgiving, after accepting our invitation, the young man didn't show up and didn't cancel.)

Although we enjoy their company during the brief time they are with us, I think we should rid ourselves of this "obligation" that is taken for granted and never reciprocated. I would prefer inviting other friends and family members who would appreciate spending the holidays with us.

My wife and I have had a difference of opinion about this for years. Should we continue to invite these people? If we decide not to, I think we should give them plenty of notice so they can make other plans. Incidentally, we always have to leave messages on their answering machine -- then wait until they get back to us at their convenience. We await your advice. -- N.J.G. IN WELLESLEY, MASS.

DEAR N.J.G.: Talk turkey; tell them now that you have decided to revise your guest list for Thanksgiving and Passover, so from now on they are free to make other plans for those special holidays because YOU have.

DEAR ABBY: We relished the letter from Krista and Rick Toberio of San Clemente which appeared in your column in the San Francisco Chronicle. They were the couple who woke up after their wedding night and discovered they had been sleeping in the wrong condominium. Their story took me back -- 52 years -- to our own honeymoon in the midst of the Great Depression.

My husband and I had $14.28 between us to spend on our honeymoon. Fortunately, gasoline was only 10 cents a gallon. My husband borrowed a trailer, barely big enough for two; so we went camping -- the first time ever for me. Luckily, he knew how to cook -- for I'd never learned a thing about that gentle, necessary art, nor had I the least understanding about what camping entailed!

Somehow, we stretched those precious dollars and had a glorious weekend during which I got a terrible sunburn and was "untouchable" for a week. We bathed out of a dishpan, relieved ourselves in holes he dug for the purpose, and loved each other half to distraction -- as we still do.

The Great Depression wasn't all bad, for if we could have honeymooned in style at a ritzy hotel, we would have missed that experience.

We are in our late 70s now and don't camp much, although my husband takes our grandchildren camping, while my old bones stay at home with the cat for company. -- STILL IN LOVE IN ALBION, CALIF.

DEAR STILL: Thank you for sharing that precious memory. When you're in love, a lumpy mattress can be a bed of roses -- and camping out is better than a suite at the Ritz.

What teen-agers need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with their peers and parents is now in Abby's updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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