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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter Thinks Drinking Mom Is Unfit to Be Kids' Guardian

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I decided to host a small but formal New Year's Eve party. I called my neighbor to tell her, and to invite her and her family. She graciously offered lots of help and proceeded to give me her guest list.

I politely told her that my husband and I were hosting the party. (I thought perhaps she had misunderstood -- that she thought I had asked her to host the party jointly.) I explained that we wanted to keep it small and limited to our close family and friends; therefore I could extend the invitation only to her, her husband and their children. She replied that she didn't think it was out of line to invite her own guests -- and that they probably wouldn't show up anyway.

It has caused a lot of friction between us, and I have since canceled the party, which I really didn't want to do. Can I still have the party but not invite them? They live right up the street. -- A. DILEMMA, PACIFICA, CALIF.

DEAR A. DILEMMA: Just when I think I've heard everything, I receive a letter about a neighbor like yours. To invite people to a party and assume they "probably won't show up anyway" is foolish. What if they DO show up and you're not prepared for them?

Give the party, and allow me to be the first to wish you a happy, healthy new year. Make one of your resolutions to have little to do with your nervy neighbor. It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict she'll be angry when she learns she wasn't included.

P.S. Don't be surprised if they show up anyway.