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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My friend, who is pregnant with her second child, has asked me to give her a baby shower. I don't have a problem entertaining for her, but this is her second pregnancy in two years -- and everyone I've invited refused to attend.

Friends I've talked to think a baby shower is only for the first baby or for babies spaced apart by five to 10 years. Perhaps I would get a better guest response if I didn't invite the same women who were invited to the first baby shower.

Abby, what is the limit for baby showers? How many years between babies, and what is the responsibility of the baby shower hostess? -- BABY SHOWER HOSTESS IN MAINE

DEAR HOSTESS: According to "The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette," a baby shower is not usually given for a second or third child, because the mother already has the essential items from her first child and may not want to put friends who attended the first shower in the position of having to give a second gift.

Instead of a shower, consider a small gathering of close friends at a luncheon or tea. If a guest wants to bring a token gift, an article of baby clothing or an IOU to provide a few frozen meals to the parents after the baby's arrival, it would be a nice gesture.

DEAR ABBY: In response to the gentleman who was married for 54 years and never received a gift from his wife, it is sad that he thinks he is expected to buy her gifts and she feels she has a right to receive them.

My husband and I have been married for 26 years. We have been rich and we have been poor. The gifts we remember the best were those we gave each other when we were poor. We had to be inventive on a budget.

He would go to my favorite beauty salon and buy me inexpensive trial sizes of the little luxuries I would no longer buy myself. They cost less than $10, but they are priceless in my memories.

I gave him one red rose from my yard, a trial size of his favorite candy, a note scented with his favorite perfume telling him a special meal was waiting for him at home in the candlelight. This, too, costs less than $10, but he still brags about it to his friends.

My husband tells me I am wearing his favorite outfit when I am in a sweater and old jeans. I bring him his coffee every morning. We say "I love you" every morning and every night. We kiss goodbye every day, and no night falls without a goodnight kiss. These are our gifts to each other. They cost nothing, but they provide an eternity of loving memories.

My heart goes out to the couple; my recommendation is for them to sit down and talk about all the wonderful reasons they are still together. Forget the old hurts on holidays and start over. It's the little, everyday touches that count -- and they cost nothing. -- CAROL LEDGU, PHOENIX

DEAR CAROL: I agree. The most meaningful gifts are the ones that come from the heart, offered with love. Furthermore, they always seem to "fit" because they are personally tailored to the needs of the recipient.

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