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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My in-laws are having a large and expensive celebration for their 40th anniversary. They are demanding that all five children kick in $250 toward the party. We live in another state and our tickets to attend are very expensive. Abby, we feel the cost of our tickets is enough expense without helping to pay for THEIR party. They invited us!

My father is 80 years old, and he and Mom will have a 50th anniversary soon. That is something to celebrate. I don't mind paying for it myself, and I won't ask anyone to help.

Which anniversaries should be celebrated with a big celebration? And must we help pay for their party? (No one offered to help us with the expense of our plane tickets.) -- JACKIE IN COLORADO SPRINGS

DEAR JACKIE: Forty years of marriage is something to celebrate, and a party is appropriate. Usually the couple hosts the party, but if the children wish, they can give the party. If the children planned this celebration, then they should each pay a share. However, if your in-laws planned the party, they are the hosts and the children should not be forced to finance it. It would be gracious to chip in if you can afford to, but if you cannot, let your in-laws know it would cause financial hardship. Perhaps they will excuse you.

P.S. The fifth, 10th, 20th, 25th, 40th, 50th and 60th are typically celebrated in style, but many couples also celebrate anniversaries in between with small parties with family or close friends.

DEAR ABBY: While my daughter and I were standing at the window, we saw that her 3-year-old had stopped his tricycle and leaned his chin on the handlebars. When we looked again, he was in the exact same position, which was unusual for him. Laughing, we went out to see what had captured his attention for so long.

His face was turning blue. The cord on the hood of his jacket had come unfastened, and when he leaned forward it had become entangled in the pedal. Each turn of the pedal had pulled him tighter against the handlebars until he could go no farther. Thank God, he was fine as soon as we cut him loose.

Children's coats should fasten with snaps or Velcro, and slacks should have no belts to remove. A baby can strangle on any string or cord -- even that ribbon used to hold its pacifier. -- NAOMI GLENN, A CONCERNED GRANDMA, HILLSBORO, OHIO

DEAR NAOMI: Your grandson's near-miss must have been terrifying for all concerned. Thank you for alerting other parents and grandparents to this potential danger. This valuable information may save some lives.

DEAR ABBY: Is it appropriate for a couple to announce their engagement at another couple's wedding?

My sister-in-law and her fiance did that at our wedding -- at the request of my mother-in-law. I'm very upset about it, and my husband says I'm being selfish and petty.

Abby, are they right, or am I? (Please don't use my name.) -- BRISTLED BRIDE

DEAR BRIDE: You are correct. What your sister-in-law did at her mother's behest was akin to the cute little child actor stealing the star's spotlight.

However, please be generous enough to forgive them, so this sore spot doesn't fester and eat away at family relationships. Harmony is more important than highlighting a breach of etiquette.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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