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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Will you please ask your readers to take a minute to think about how they treat people who are different or unique? These days we seem to care about how we treat people who are disabled or in a minority -- however, some of us seem to forget that ALL people should be treated with kindness, dignity and respect, regardless of who they are or what they do.

My son is an Elvis impersonator. Now, I'm not talking about some clairvoyant who thinks he channels Elvis; I'm talking about a talented singer who works hard at his profession of re-creating the Elvis concert experience. He was even selected to be in a new film on impersonators called "Almost Elvis." But you would not believe the way some people treat him in public.

Although he doesn't walk around in a jumpsuit, he must look the part with black hair and sideburns. It amazes and upsets me how rude and insensitive people can be with their smart remarks. If they stopped to think for a minute about the Golden Rule, about choosing to build up rather than tear down those around them, then we might have a little more kindness in the world. Elvis was known for his kindness to strangers -- and I think we could all take a lesson from him. -- PROTECTIVE LITTLE MAMA, OLYMPIA, WASH.

DEAR PROTECTIVE LITTLE MAMA: Although the comments may not be all that a mother would wish for, they may go with the territory. There's an old show-business saying, "If you want a place in the sun, you had better be prepared to put up with a few blisters." Since your son is respected in his profession, I'm hoping he receives his share of compliments to make up for any hurt that may be caused by the clumsy attempts at humor.

It's interesting that Elvis Presley's talent was so unique he is still an unforgettable celebrity so many years after his death.

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.

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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