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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I work in the Central Baggage Service office for a national airline. I am astonished at the amount of baggage and "lost" articles salvaged every year by the airlines. Every week we receive cameras, eyeglasses, binoculars, expensive pens and pencils, car keys, Bibles, wedding albums, books and every other imaginable article.

It really tears me up to throw away wedding, baby and family reunion pictures after holding them for four weeks -- which is our limit. If we can track down the owners, we return whatever they have left behind, but unfortunately, most of the articles have no identification on them.

In addition, we receive hundreds of pieces of "lost" luggage every year. About half of these we cannot return because the airline baggage tag has come off and there is no other way to track down the owner.

If passengers would put several pieces of identification on the bag -- as well as on the inside of the bag -- we could return it to the owner in a matter of a few hours.

Abby, the airline industry has improved greatly in retrieving lost baggage in the last few years. However, nothing would be lost if all the passengers would label their baggage inside and out -- and this includes carry-on luggage and hanging bags, which some travelers have walked off the plane and left behind! -- CHICAGO

DEAR CHICAGO: Thanks for an important letter. I hope this wakes up a few sleepy travelers.

DEAR ABBY: We have lived in this neighborhood for 35 years and we know almost all of our neighbors very well. As a retired man, I pass these homes two or three times a week on my walks. At Christmastime, I drop off our Christmas cards at the homes of our neighbors rather than go through the postal system.

My wife doesn't like that idea. One of our neighbors told another neighbor she thought we were cheap delivering our Christmas cards that way. What we save in postage we give to the Salvation Army. I see nothing wrong with our means of distribution. The wife says, "Write to Abby and ask her."

So, I'm asking. -- CHEAP, OR NOT?

DEAR CHEAP: Do you ring the doorbells and hand the Christmas cards to the recipients? Or do you leave the cards in their mailboxes? If you use the mailboxes, unless you affix appropriate postage to each card, you are in violation of the law.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have several adopted children. One has many birth defects due to parental drug use. His appearance is startling, but he is the sweetest and most loving of children.

The kindest remarks are always those which praise and encourage. Parents are all too aware of their children's problems. They don't need anyone's pity, and you can be sure they've reviewed every treatment option with their physician.

Offer your congratulations on the birth, or comment positively about the child's lovely eyes or bright smile or even adorable clothes. If there are other children, don't ignore them, or the "disabled" child. And please keep your advice to yourself unless asked, especially if you are not close to the parents.

Thanks, Abby, for doing so much to educate the public on handicaps and on adoption. -- PEG G. IN MILFORD, N.J.

Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." 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, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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