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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have always made it a priority to spend time with the people in our lives we care for. At this stage, our children are gone and our large home is ideal for gatherings, so we are frequent hosts to friends and family.

One of our close friends, "Gloria," has a roommate, "Ivy," who has taken it upon herself to show up at any event she hears about without being invited. This has put Gloria in the uncomfortable position of being the "informant." In most cases, it wouldn't present a problem. However, Ivy has shown up at sit-down dinners with limited seating. She never offers to bring anything or calls to make sure she's welcome. Sometimes she shows up earlier than when our guests have been told to arrive. This has caused some awkward situations for me, to put it mildly.

Not only that, but Ivy is a very demanding guest. On a few occasions she has tried to boss me around and expects me to wait on her hand and foot. How can we tactfully tell this woman she needs to call before showing up to make sure she's welcome? -- HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST IN OHIO

DEAR HOSTESS: You have described a boor who knows no boundaries. Please do not waste your time trying to be "tactful," because it won't work. The next time Ivy shows up uninvited, tell her exactly what you have written to me and do not admit her. Period.

DEAR ABBY: I have struggled with my weight ever since the death of my child several years ago. This year for Christmas, a family member -- who despises me -- drew my name. Her gift to me was a glass pie dish containing cookie-making ingredients, plus a pastry cutter and two basting brushes.

She knows I always send thank-you cards. What kind of thank-you should I send her? She reads your column. Maybe I can just send her your reply? -- STUMPED IN WEST RICHLAND, WASH.

DEAR STUMPED: Do not clip and send the woman my reply. That would be bad manners. Instead, copy it on stationery in your own handwriting. Here's what to tell her:

"How kind of you to remember me with the goodie-fixings. I have always felt that the thought and planning that go into selecting a gift are what makes it -- and the sender -- so special. Your generosity will not soon be forgotten!"

I think that will express what you would like to say in a way that will leave you above reproach.

DEAR ABBY: I need to know if my husband's relationship with his ex-wife should be tolerated. They talk to each other on the phone every month or so, and send each other cards on special occasions. Their closeness caused a former girlfriend to break off their relationship before we met.

He is determined to stay close and sees nothing wrong with it. There were no children from the marriage, Abby, so that is not the reason.

Why do people who remain this close get divorced? Am I wrong to feel hurt and threatened, because I'm ready to just walk away from this warped, co-dependent relationship. Please let me know your thoughts. -- READY TO QUIT IN ARIZONA

DEAR READY TO QUIT: Your husband's first marriage failed for good reason. However, he and his ex may "cling" because they invested so much of themselves in the relationship that they can't completely detach.

Before you throw in the towel, please consider marriage counseling. Your husband may not understand how deeply his ongoing relationship with his ex hurts you. A neutral third party might be able to get through to him what you cannot.

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 $6 (U.S. funds) 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

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