Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Lack of Christening Gift Opens Floodgate of Anger

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing this letter for my sister, "Janis," who is beside herself with anger. She recently had a christening party for her newborn twins and was surprised and hurt that our other sister, "Lois," and her husband did not bring a gift or card for the occasion. They gave some lame excuse about just getting back from a vacation and not having time to stop by a store to pick up a gift.

The twins' mother is thinking about confronting Lois, and I'm afraid of the consequences. Is a gift always necessary? What is the best way to handle this? -- PEACEMAKER IN BLOOMFIELD

DEAR PEACEMAKER: Tell your sister to hold her horses. Your other sister and her husband may have had a valid reason for failing to bring a gift to the christening and they may come up with one yet. It's traditional to present a gift at a christening, but if it's forced, it's not a gift. Better to let it go than alienate family members. No gift is worth losing a sister.

DEAR ABBY: Your advice to the woman who wanted to write her life story for her children and include the disclosure of an extramarital affair was right on the money. You told her to keep her story to herself.

I know from being the recipient of such news earlier this year how right you are. If the woman thinks her children are unaware of the affair she had, she's wrong! I suspected my father was having an affair, and even met the woman who was his mistress (although she wasn't introduced to me as that). Even with my suspicions, having the news confirmed was devastating.

I hope the woman has enough sense to follow your advice. If she loves her children, she shouldn't hurt them in this way. Although I have forgiven my father, I doubt I will ever forget this. -- DEVASTATED BUT SURVIVING IN TORONTO

DEAR DEVASTATED: I appreciate your support of my view. Truth is admirable, but when it comes to a cruel truth that can hurt others, I vote for silence.

DEAR ABBY: I recently read that you were once a volunteer with the Gray Ladies. When I was 3 years old, I was admitted to the hospital to have my tonsils removed.

The next day, the ward was quarantined for diphtheria and I spent 29 days away from my family. My memories of that time consist entirely of the love given me, a frightened and lonely child, by the Gray Ladies. I want to thank you all for the kindness shown to me and thousands of others. -- MICHELLE PHILLIPS, LOS ANGELES

DEAR MICHELLE: Your letter brought back many fond memories of my days as a volunteer at Luther Hospital in Eau Claire, Wis. I don't recall anything as dramatic as a stranded child, but I am proud to have been a part of such a fine group of women.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I will be attending a Catholic church soon for a special event.

As Protestants, is it necessary for us to kneel when everybody else does? -- WONDERING IN MINNESOTA


For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600