DEAR ABBY: I would appreciate your opinion. When a bridal, baby or any other kind of shower is given, isn't it customary for the guest of honor to open the gifts, then pass them around for all the guests to admire?
If the guest of honor is suddenly taken ill, shouldn't the event be postponed or canceled, rather than the guests going ahead with the event and opening the presents in her absence? This happened to me some years ago. I was terribly disappointed to have missed my own party -- yet I have been told this practice is perfectly proper. Is that true, Abby?
-- AWAITING YOUR REPLY, SUNNYVALE, CALIF.
DEAR AWAITING: Not in my book. If the guest of honor at a shower is taken ill, the event should be postponed until she is better and can enjoy it. While we're on the subject of showers, read on:
DEAR ABBY: My co-worker "Cookie" was expecting her first child. Her mother-in-law sent invitations for the baby shower. I shopped for three weeks until I found the perfect gift, which, I might add, was not cheap.
When the guests arrived, Cookie's mother-in-law explained that she would not be there. She was resting and recuperating from the miscarriage she had suffered a week earlier! Her mother-in-law then added, "Don't worry. MY daughter is pregnant. I know she'll love these nice gifts."
So, the gift I purchased for Cookie went to someone I've never met. I'll bet you've never heard a story like that one before. -- STUNNED IN LOUISIANA
DEAR STUNNED: You're right. Your letter is another first. It illustrates why Elizabeth Post wrote in "The New Emily Post's Etiquette":
"Stork -- or baby -- showers are best given after the happy event takes place. While the vast majority of babies are born healthy and happily, there is always a faint chance that something can go wrong, and nothing could be sadder for the bereaved mother (or father) than to have to put away or return the unused shower gifts. But once mother and baby have been home for a few weeks, they are ready to 'receive,' and the mother is eager to show off her pride and joy."
The idea that your friend's mother-in-law would assume she could commandeer the baby gifts for her own daughter is absurd. Every time I think I've heard it all, another letter like yours arrives.
DEAR ABBY: Please settle an argument. I am blessed with a good job and financial security. However, when it comes to gift giving, my wife, "Lois," and I do not agree.
I enjoy being generous; I can afford it. However, Lois believes that our relatives will feel they must reciprocate at the same level. For the most part, this would present hardship for them.
Should I go ahead and give what I want, or take into account the financial constraints of these family members? Lois thinks we should establish standard amounts for each occasion and stick to those guidelines. She says she's not cheap; she is sensitive to the feelings of our relatives. Who is right, Abby? -- BIG SPENDER IN THE GARDEN STATE
DEAR BIG SPENDER: Your wife may have a point. The burden of gratitude can become heavy when a person is unable to reciprocate at a similar level.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
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