DEAR ABBY: I work for a small company with 25 employees. Four of us are in the office all day -- all women. To put it mildly, I have never felt accepted by these "ladies." During this past year, they've been especially hateful to me. Other employees tell me it's pure jealousy.
My problem: The holidays are now here. What should I do about participating in the traditional gift exchange at the office? Should I buy each gal a gift out of the spirit of giving, even though I have no desire to do so? Or should I make it clear that I do not wish to exchange presents, which could make matters worse? I feel stuck, Abby. Please help me out. -- TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE IN WASHINGTON STATE
DEAR TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE: Buy a lovely pastry or some other treat that everyone in the office can enjoy. Include a card with it that reads: "My budget this year does not allow me to give individual gifts to each of you. -- Enjoy! Merry Christmas." That way, you'll have participated "in the spirit of giving" without feeling hypocritical.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 28-year-old single mother of five. I have been married and divorced three times. Right now that's the least of my problems. I've been dating "Gordy" for two years, and the idea of marriage has crossed my mind more than once.
Gordy loves my kids and they love him, but he says he's not ready to make the kind of commitment that comes with marriage. The kids are not the problem; I don't have custody. I get them only every other weekend and holidays, so it's not the responsibility of taking care of a big family that's holding Gordy back. He says he'd be OK with all that. I'm afraid my past three failed marriages bother him. All he's willing to admit is that he's "not ready."
Abby, I feel that I am ready. Should I sit back and give Gordy more time, or confront him and give an ultimatum? Please help. -- CONFUSED AND TIRED OF WAITING
DEAR CONFUSED: Let me get this straight. You've had three failed marriages and five children by age 26 -- and now, at 28, you're tired of waiting for yet another man to propose?
I should think you'd be grateful for the respite. Please take more time to get to know yourself better and get counseling to understand why your last three marriages failed before you embark on a fourth trip to the altar.
A final thought: Never issue an ultimatum unless you're prepared to lose.
DEAR ABBY: I am not an astronomer or a religious person. I just like to have a heart-to-heart talk with God whenever I am outdoors under the stars and moonlight sky. I think they make a great pair. Is there a religion that encourages this? Thank you. -- J.B. IN WATERLOO, N.Y.
DEAR J.B.: All religions encourage meditation -- which is what you are describing. You don't even have to do it under the moon and the stars. Talking to the God that dwells in your heart is enough, because God is everywhere.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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