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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: The letter from the woman complaining about the value of a wedding gift reminded me of something that happened to us years ago.

My family declined an invitation to the wedding of a neighbor's son, but we sent a gift -- an expensive crystal bowl trimmed in sterling silver. We had it gift-wrapped and asked the salesperson to send it to the couple with our card.

A couple of months later, we received a note that said, "Thank you for the orange ashtray." We debated and finally decided not to embarrass the couple by correcting their error.

However, we've always feared that they thought we were cheap, and wonder if we should have corrected them.

Perhaps if you publish this, the couple will recognize themselves. They are mature enough by now to view this as a rather funny mixup, which is how we have come to look at it.

I would advise people who send gifts from stores to make sure their card is included inside the package, which we did not. -- CHARLES WELCOME, LOWER WATERFORD, VT.

DEAR CHARLES: Most establishments are conscientious when sending customers' packages, but mistakes do occur. Had you notified the store at the time, it would have contacted the recipients for you and informed them of the error. Now, will the person who sent the orange ashtray please identify yourself?

DEAR ABBY: Now you've gone and done it! For 52 years, I've started each morning with a hug, a kiss and an "I love you" for my wife. I've helped with the housework, complimented her looks and choice of clothes, and sent flowers on non-occasions. I wrote love letters instead of sending commercial cards and tried to fulfill her needs and desires.

Now you reveal, in your answer to "Saying Yes All the Time," that it was all a plot to bed my wife -- all the togetherness was a clever scheme to keep happiness in my bedroom.

Well, I'm guilty. My wife will be the first to acknowledge that. But the loving rewards, even in our twilight years, have been great. -- ALVIN H. LEVIN, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.

DEAR ALVIN: From the tone of your letter, I'd say there is happiness in every room of your house, and in every aspect of your marriage. Thank you for your delightful "confession." When this is published, Mrs. Levin will be envied by every wife in Scottsdale.

And you, Alvin, should be cloned.

DEAR ABBY: This is for Mavis E. Winter in Laguna Niguel and others who don't have time to brush their teeth before going to the dentist's office. Many years ago, before dentists wore rubber gloves while treating patients, my dentist told me what he did when patients said they didn't have time to brush. He would tell them, "That's OK. I didn't have time to wash my hands either!" -- STILL BRUSHING

CONFIDENTIAL TO "GOOD HOUSEKEEPER WANNABE" IN ITHACA, N.Y.: If you are always the first one to see the dirt, perhaps you ought to clean your glasses. (Abigail Van Buren).

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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