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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I can't get a letter that I read in your column out of my mind. It was from "Happily Selfish Parent," who wrote that today's young people want everything and people of her generation wanted only food, shelter and clothing.

I would like to point out that all of the things she thinks we "have to have" -- television, computers, answering machines, pagers, CDs, videos and microwaves -- did not exist in her day. She couldn't want items that hadn't been invented yet. Nor was she bombarded by the media to desire such things.

Let me ask her this: Did you consider newfangled inventions like radios and telephones important? How about electric lights and indoor plumbing? It's all relative. Don't be a sour grape. -- LIVING FRUGALLY AT 35

DEAR LIVING FRUGALLY: I defended today's young people in my answer to "Happily Selfish Parent," but not as eloquently as they did themselves. They responded in droves. Most of them had part-time jobs while they went to school (some held more than one). Many have budgets and savings plans. Some have never borrowed from their parents, but of those who did, the majority paid back all the money. They purchase their "luxury items" with their own money.

One young reader summed it up very well: "Financial irresponsibility is not a generational trait but one that spans genders, races and ages. Please don't take your own family's shortcomings out on a whole generation. We have proven that we deserve better."

DEAR ABBY: I have a problem I haven't seen before in your column. My husband and I went to the wedding of a co-worker of his. A few weeks after the wedding, my husband's co-worker handed him a card, which turned out to be a thank-you note, generically thanking us for the lovely gift. The problem? We had not yet given a gift.

We and our friends are divided. Some say we are off the hook for a gift, since it would be embarrassing to the couple to receive a gift after sending us a thank-you note; others say if we were intending to give a gift, we should do so. We're curious as to what you say. -- WAITING TO HEAR

DEAR WAITING TO HEAR: If your husband does not come forward stating that you have not yet sent a gift, someone else may not receive the thank-you that is due.

DEAR ABBY: While I was moving a few boxes in the garage of our Montecito, Calif., home, I spotted an aging envelope. The postmark was barely legible: Atolia, Calif., Sept. 3, 1933. The writing was definitely mine. Enough of garage cleaning; I retreated to the porch overlooking the nearby Santa Barbara harbor.

Comfortably seated, I carefully opened the deteriorating envelope. The first few lines brought both memories and a smile. It was a love letter I had written decades ago while employed as a miner far out in the California desert. The letter was directed to a girl in Hermosa Beach, Calif., whom I must have loved very much. Gazing at the boats leaving the harbor, my mind was flooded with memories of the girl in Hermosa Beach. How well I recalled her laughing smile and diminutive size.

My thoughts of the distant past were interrupted by someone calling from the other end of the porch. A lovely woman was approaching holding a new gray suit. "You will look real handsome at our 50th anniversary next week," she said.

It was the girl from Hermosa Beach -- older, but as attractive as ever. -- DOUGLAS AND JUANITA ROBERTSON

DEAR DOUGLAS AND JUANITA: Congratulations on your 50th wedding anniversary. May you enjoy many more decades together.

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