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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom's Boyfriend May Cause Downsized Family Reunion

DEAR ABBY: My mother married when she was 15. She had six children. When she was 36, she got a divorce and announced that it was time she lived her life as she saw fit.

Mom always kept herself in great physical condition. For the last two years she has been dating a man who is 33 years her junior. Mom's son is four years younger than her boyfriend! This repulses me. I do not want my younger children around such craziness.

This part I can handle, but my siblings are planning a family reunion this summer. I have not seen some of my brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews for six years. My mother plans to attend this reunion with her young lover. I believe it is totally inappropriate to flaunt her carefree lifestyle in the presence of these young people.

I don't know how to handle this. If Mom insists on bringing her boyfriend, my husband refuses to go. Please help me. -- ASHAMED AND HEARTBROKEN

DEAR ASHAMED: If your husband refuses to attend the family reunion because your mother and her young boyfriend will be there, tell him you'll miss him.

As adults, your mother and her boyfriend are entitled to make their own decisions. "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

DEAR ABBY: In reference to an article titled "Lawyer's Courtroom Goofs Are Good for a Laugh," which recently appeared in your column, I was reminded of a church bulletin that had our congregation in stitches one Sunday morning. I'm not sure where it originated. Our pastor announced at the beginning of the service to be sure to read the back of the bulletin before he began his sermon so that he would not think our laughter was directed at the sermon itself. -- LISA SPRADLING, FULTONVILLE, ALA.

DEAR LISA: Thank you for the day-brightener. It's certainly worth sharing:

"Most people don't realize how much editing goes into producing a church bulletin or newsletter. Some announcements have to be completely rewritten because if they appeared the way they were submitted, it would lead to total confusion. Below are some examples:

" -- Don't let worry kill you -- let the church help.

" -- Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

" -- For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

" -- This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Martin to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

" -- Next Sunday, a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet may come forward and do so.

" -- A 'Bean Supper' will be held next Sunday evening in the fellowship hall. Special music will follow.

" -- At the evening service tonight, the topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.

" -- The flower on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Hunter, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Hunter.

" -- The United Methodist Women have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the church basement this Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m."

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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