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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in a few months. When he asks me what I want, how do I hint to him that I'd like a modest engagement ring without having to come right out with it? I have never had one, and I have never taken off my wedding band during our entire marriage. In fact, I have never worn another ring on my hands out of respect for my wedding band. I would like a small "sparkler" to go along with it, but I'm embarrassed to tell him. It seems almost greedy.

Although we probably should keep all our savings for retirement, we could be frivolous and spend several hundred dollars without breaking the bank. I have put jewelry ads where he can see them, but he doesn't notice them. -- SEEKING A SUBTLE SUGGESTION IN FLORIDA

DEAR SEEKING: Your husband isn't a mind reader, and if you expect him to pick up on a hint, you're taking a big gamble. When he asks what you want for your 25th anniversary, tell him the truth. Tell him you would like a tasteful, sparkling diamond ring to add to your wedding band -- to symbolize the jewel of a man you married so many happy years ago. It's the truth, and I hope it has the desired result.

DEAR ABBY: Back in 1993, I was in ninth grade attending high school in northern Delaware. I was a shy kid and somewhat depressed. I never had much to say, nor felt my opinions mattered.

One day in math class, the teacher called on me to answer a math problem. Out of the blue, a boy who sat several rows away said out loud, "You should talk more. You have a nice voice." I was in shock -- in a good way! Someone had given me a compliment!

It was, and still is, one of the nicest compliments I've ever received. It made me feel valued. I still smile whenever I think of it.

If that young man happens to read this, I thank him from the bottom of my heart. -- STEPHANIE IN DELAWARE

DEAR STEPHANIE: I'm pleased to pass along your message. A simple compliment can change a life. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: My 99-year-old aunt gave me this poem. It was written by my grandmother, Cecile Harris, who was born in 1868. I call it "Grandma's Words of Wisdom."

For some kind word I do not say

A heart goes lonely on its way.

Those words of praise I do not speak

May make another's courage weak.

My friendly thought I do not share

May leave another in despair.

The words that burn, the hurt that sears

May live to haunt me through the years.

What loads I lift, what joy I spread

May live long after I am dead.

My grandma was a wonderful lady. I can recall no unkind comment she ever made. -- BONNIE THOMA, YUBA CITY, CALIF.

DEAR BONNIE: Your grandmother not only had a way with words, she was a wise woman.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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