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by Abigail Van Buren

Mother of Elvis Impersonator Checks Into Heartbreak Hotel

DEAR ABBY: Each year, usually in December, you print letters about choosing appropriate gifts for the elderly. You have advised us against purchasing unwanted items such as bath powder or earrings for Grammy and neckties or after-shave for Grandpa. You have reminded us to stay clear of useless things for their homes, like vases or knickknacks.

I have learned from your column and for the last few years I simply ASK my relatives what they can use. If Mom wants postage stamps and a grocery store gift certificate, and Dad wants a coupon for an oil change this year, that's exactly what I give them. They're pleased and so am I.

Here comes my problem: How do I get my elderly relatives to stop sending ME useless gifts? I wouldn't dare hurt their feelings, but they never ask me what I want; they simply send things I have no use for.

How about writing a column to the elderly about gift BUYING? This really needs to be addressed and printed in the newspaper. (Then maybe I can cut it out and send them copies.) I appreciate your help. -- STUMPED IN NEVADA

DEAR STUMPED: Your problem is universal. As the holiday season approaches, write or call your relatives and thank them for their past generosity, then tell them that from now on, a card expressing their loving feelings would be appreciated more than a gift.