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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Three years ago, "Donna," our youngest daughter, married "Bill." We were not happy with her choice, but she was 23 and it was her decision, so we gave her a beautiful wedding and kept quiet.

While they were dating, Bill broke dates, was very late and sometimes didn't show up at all. He hated all her friends, so eventually she gave them up -- even her longtime girlfriends. Now he wants to have nothing to do with us.

We live 1,000 miles away and feel lucky to get to see her twice a year (Christmas and her birthday).

We had a family reunion -- Donna did not attend. Bill's family had a reunion -- they attended.

I know Donna should be more aggressive, but it is not her nature. Should we stop calling, writing and sending her gifts? If we don't stay in touch, it will be exactly what Bill wants to happen.

We had Donna when we were 40, and I have a terminal illness, which makes matters worse. Abby, what would you do? -- CAN'T CRY ANYMORE

DEAR CAN'T: I would do whatever pleases ME.

It is obvious that your daughter is being totally controlled by her husband. You do not say whether she is happy with this arrangement. Coupled with the estrangement from family and friends that you describe, this can be a warning sign of impending mental or physical abuse. If she is happy, don't try to "rescue" her. But if she's not, let her know you're there for her and will help her in any way you can -- should she ask.

DEAR ABBY: Some friends of mine were recently married and had a strange request for a gift. The groom is a widower who had a home completely furnished with all the necessities. This was the bride's first marriage.

Our circle of friends all attend the same church, so an announcement was displayed on the bulletin board stating that since they already had all the things they need to start a home together, they were requesting that any gifts be sent in the form of a cash donation to a travel agency for their honeymoon. A small announcement with the same message was included with each wedding invitation.

Abby, many of us have very simple lifestyles and try not to be condemning, so very little was said. I am also aware that many people care very little about what etiquette dictates. However, it seems to me that if people want to give a gift, it is just that -- a gift, of their choosing. Some say this isn't any different from a bride registering at a department store. To me, it was just a little too tacky. Your opinion, please. -- WANTS TO KNOW IN YORBA LINDA, CALIF.

DEAR WANTS TO KNOW: I agree with you. If someone asks what the couple could use, then the friends and family can offer a suggestion. But to include an announcement requesting a particular gift or a gift of money is, indeed, tacky.

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to the letter from Jack R. Robinson from Kennewick, Wash., who wrote because he was concerned that nowhere other than in your column was George Washington's birthday (Feb. 22) mentioned.

He should take heart because every year anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 come to our south Texas community, which was established in 1775, to celebrate that important occasion. We are Laredo, Texas, just 150 miles south of San Antonio, and we have celebrated George Washington's birthday every year for the last 100 years!

Feel free to visit our Web site at http://www.icsildo.com/wbca/index.htm. I think you will be most surprised. Interested readers can also contact the Washington's Birthday Celebration Association by writing: 1819 E. Hillside Road, Laredo, Texas 78041. -- GLEN S. JACKSON, 99TH WBCA PRESIDENT, 1995-96

DEAR FORMER PRESIDENT JACKSON: I'm certain that many readers will be interested to know that in your city, Washington's birthday is still celebrated in the traditional way. I know I was. Thank you for writing.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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