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by Abigail Van Buren

Keep Practicality in Mind When Shopping for Seniors

DEAR ABBY: This is the time of year people begin thinking, "What should I get Mom, Dad and Aunt Tillie for Christmas?" Well, I AM a mom and an Aunt Tillie, and I filled Dad's shoes for more years than I care to count. So, for all of you who haven't a clue what "we" would like, keep reading:

Don't try to buy me happiness with a token gift. Most of all, I'd love just a little of your time.

If you want to buy something for me, I'd appreciate a box of all-occasion greeting cards. A roll of stamps to go with them would also be helpful, so that when my old friends have a reason to celebrate, I'll not have to venture to the store or post office. (An assortment of gift wrap and Scotch tape are another novel idea.)

You all know how much I love flowers -- not the cut bouquets from a florist, but real plants from a nursery, delivered at the right time for planting in the spring. Something like that can be enjoyed all year, and I'll remember your thoughtfulness every time I look at them.

My little doggie needs grooming every month. How about a gift certificate? They make terrific gifts. Also, I would never spend household budget money for a manicure, pedicure or massage, but a gift certificate for one would certainly be welcome. Or one for a car wash, or the next trip to the dry cleaner or shoe repair shop.

What about a gift certificate for a dinner for two, so I can treat a good friend to a meal and company because HER family is also busy? Have you forgotten how much I enjoy Reader's Digest, Family Circle and TV Guide? I can't afford subscriptions anymore, but they would be a lot more welcome than bubble bath that I'm now allergic to.

Also, if you want to give me something, how about a prepaid phone card, or a few bucks prepaid on my telephone bill? And if you're feeling generous, how about contacting the company that aerates my lawn, the chimney sweep or, for that matter, the mechanic who readies my car for winter?

You see, we're not as difficult to buy for as you thought. You have simply forgotten who we really are. We're not "those old people down the street." We're the parents who always knew what you wanted or needed -- because we loved you.

Thanks for the space, Dear Abby. I hope my kids are listening. -- ANY PARENT OR GRANDPARENT, ANYTOWN, U.S.A.

DEAR ANY: Thanks for a letter that's sure to start a lot of people thinking creatively about the Christmas holidays. Another idea is to create customized gift baskets filled with small cans of tuna, salmon, chicken and turkey, hearty soups, and "goodies" that someone on a fixed income might forgo. Put on your thinking caps, folks. The season is at hand!

DEAR ABBY: Every year I read about the urgent need for organ donation, and the tragedy of people who die waiting for one.

Don't you think it would be a good idea to give people a tax rebate who pledged their organs for transplant upon their death? It seems to me it would solve our country's great need for donor organs with a nationwide system of registration and reward.

I was going to send my idea to Washington, but I believe your column would be more effective, and has no political agenda. Do offer this idea to your readers. -- PEGGY MARTIN, VENICE, FLA.

DEAR PEGGY: It's an intriguing idea. One way to make the option more attractive would be for the government to forgive a portion of the inheritance taxes for the families of the donors.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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