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DEAR ABBY: Last evening, our 20-year-old son, "Roger," brought a young lady home for us to meet. Her name is "Sally"; they met in a class at the local college.

I know as well as I know my own name that our son is going to ask his dad and me, "Well, what did you think of her?" -- and therein lies my problem. My husband and I aren't sure if we should be honest with Roger about our first impression of Sally.

Perhaps we should tell him to let us get better acquainted before passing judgment. We have even considered staying completely neutral. After all, if Roger ends up marrying her and it doesn't work out, we could be accused of trying to influence him.

This is the first time our son has ever brought a female friend home for us to meet. Roger and Sally seem happy together, and that's all that counts. However, his dad and I also know our son is looking for our approval -- especially mine. -- MICHIGAN MOM

DEAR MICHIGAN MOM: Level with your son in a nonconfrontational way. Tell him what you and your husband observed. But make it clear that because first impressions can sometimes be deceiving, you and your husband would like to see more of Sally before making a determination.

DEAR ABBY: My husband has a serious problem with alcohol and drugs, and I don't know what to do to get him some help. He's tried to stop on his own, but he just can't fight it. It's really gotten bad, Abby. I want to save our marriage, but don't know where to begin. -- NEW JERSEY WIFE

DEAR WIFE: Nothing will change until your husband can admit the seriousness of his problem and accept help. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a fine organization of men and women who have walked in his shoes, and can be instrumental in your husband's recovery. My readers have told me that AA works.

My advice to you is to discuss your husband's addiction with your family physician. He or she will be able to guide you to appropriate treatment for your husband once he makes a commitment to stop his substance abuse. Al-Anon could also be helpful for you. It provides information and support to family and friends of alcoholics. AA and Al-Anon are as close as your phone book.

DEAR Abby: Now that the holidays have come and gone, I am once again wondering about the proper etiquette for thanking people for gifts. When I was growing up, my mother insisted that after each Christmas and birthday I write detailed thank-you notes. Of course, notes are in order for gifts received in the mail, but what about presents opened in front of the giver?

When I have children, I imagine Mom will expect thank-you notes from her grandkids. On the other hand, I have friends who say that a sincere, verbal thank-you is sufficient, and sending notes to people who have already been thanked is overkill. Please tell me if a handwritten note is necessary. I don't want to be rude. Thanks, Abby. -- UNSURE IN DALLASTOWN, PA.

DEAR UNSURE: A verbal thank-you is very nice, but it's not enough. The art of writing a thank-you note is a social grace that every wise parent should pass along to his or her child. The note need not be lengthy or complicated as long as it is sincere.

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