Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have read so much about divorced parents creating problems at their kids' weddings that I had to write and let you know what happened at mine.

My parents divorced when I was 2 years old. For years, I heard Mother and Dad bad-mouth each other. And I went for years without seeing my father because of their dislike for each other.

Then, when I was in my early teens, my parents started mending fences, and I got to know my father better. I soon realized that Dad wasn't such a bad guy after all.

OK, I am now 21 and have just married a wonderful young man. Dad got married last year and the hostility between my parents just seemed to evaporate!

I got the nicest present anyone could have given me. My mother and my stepmother gave me a surprise bridal shower -- together! Mom insisted that Dad give me away at my wedding, and she and Dad stood together at my side to give me their blessings.

My stepmother insisted that Mom and Dad sit together at the wedding dinner. My parents laughed and danced together and everyone had a super time. I didn't have to ask anybody to please be nice for my sake. There were genuine good feelings. I get emotional just thinking about it. Sign this ... DREAMS CAN COME TRUE IN TEXAS

DEAR DREAMS CAN COME TRUE: What an upper your letter is! Your parents (and stepmother) showed rare maturity, sensitivity and generosity. Few children of divorced parents are as fortunate. Lucky you!

DEAR ABBY: This is the first time I have written, but I thought you might find this letter of interest.

When my daughter informed me more than a month ahead of time that she and her husband planned to give me a big 80th birthday celebration, I remembered a letter that appeared in your column several months ago, from a woman who requested that all of her "gifts" go to the local food bank.

Well, the party was a huge success. More than 70 guests attended, and 145 pounds of food and $137 in coins and checks were donated. My photograph appeared in the local paper and I received bouquets of flowers from the local flower shop and radio station -- with congratulations for having given my "birthday gifts" to the food bank!

What a wonderful feeling to know that I have helped the hungry through these very difficult times. It was so worthwhile.

It would make me very happy to hear that many others would do the same. Just sharing the occasion with my wonderful friends was present enough for me. -- HELEN IN OTTAWA, CANADA

DEAR HELEN: Congratulations on your 80th! May you celebrate many more and continue the spirit of giving. This letter may inspire others to celebrate their birthdays by encouraging others to give to those who are hungry.

To get Abby's booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600