DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are senior citizens living on a fixed income. It has become harder and harder to purchase gifts or give money (which we have done in the past) to all our beloved family members. Recently a grandson called to inform us they are expecting their first child. Instead of being happy for them, we were filled with dread, because now there will be another gift to buy!
During the year, I try to save for Christmas gifts; it's never enough. I've told my husband that we are going to have to be honest with the family. He is too embarrassed to break the news to them that we cannot give like we have in the past.
Abby, how have other senior citizens solved this problem? I lie awake nights worrying. Believe me, that's no way to live! The holidays should be a happy time, but I don't look forward to them anymore. -- WORRIED IN WELLSVILLE, OHIO
DEAR WORRIED: Yours is a problem I am asked about almost every year. One solution is to be up-front about it. One day this week, write a note to the friends and family members on your Christmas list, saying, "We are thankful for folks with whom we can be honest. We're not in a position to send Christmas gifts this year (nor do we expect any) -- but please accept our love and sincere good wishes for a happy, healthy, blessed holiday."
If this seems too drastic a measure, another solution is to give one gift that can be enjoyed by the whole family, such as a game, movie coupons, or popcorn in assorted flavors.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 16-year-old girl with a problem. A week ago, a half-sister I had never met, and whom my dad hadn't seen in 16 years, suddenly showed up at our home. I was happy at first, but later my sister and I realized that our father paid more attention to her in one hour than he had to us in all the time since we were born.
My sister and I have tried to be a part of his life, but he has never wanted to spend time with us. He tells us we are both being selfish. If what he says is true, do we have the right to be upset? Please help. -- CONFUSED TEEN IN TEXAS
DEAR CONFUSED: Since your father hadn't seen your half-sister in 16 years, his reaction to her was understandable. Before you allow your resentment to get the better of you, allow yourself to get to know the girl. It's possible his reaction had something to do with guilt rather than preference. Take it slowly, and you might find you and your half-sister have a lot in common.
P.S. Although you say your father has been emotionally unavailable to you, he has been physically AND emotionally unavailable to her all these years. Count your blessings.
DEAR ABBY: Here's one for the "I don't believe it!" list:
We recently attended a 50th anniversary reception for some old friends. The party obviously exceeded their children's budget because, as we left, there was a gold basket and a sign at the door that read: "Please help us have a happy Thanksgiving by defraying the cost of this entertainment for you this afternoon." Can anyone top this? -- MYSTIFIED IN FORT WORTH
DEAR MYSTIFIED: Probably. But it's not going to be easy.
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.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600