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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Celebrates Holidays Quietly and Happily Alone

DEAR ABBY: Now that the year-end holidays are here, I find myself once again in the sometimes difficult position of having to explain to acquaintances and co-workers why I don't celebrate them.

I am single. My parents died many years ago, and I have no family. My only surviving sibling and his wife are both alcoholics who drink to excess over the holidays and cause tension in their family. I have attended Al-Anon meetings, and because I refused to look the other way while they were drinking, I was cut off.

Co-workers take time off at Christmas, but I take mine at other times of the year. Over time, I have found that I would rather spend a so-called holiday catching up on correspondence, taking a walk, reading a good book or sewing. Outside of work or professional organizations, I do not do anything about the year-end holidays. I understand the religious and historical significance of these celebrations and keep them in my heart, but do not observe them in a visible manner. This is my choice.

When people ask me what I'm doing for the holidays, it is an awkward moment. How can I gracefully explain that I choose to keep the holidays in my heart only and enjoy the day as a small vacation for myself? -- LONG BEACH LONER

DEAR LONER: You need no advice from me. Your last sentence expresses your sentiments beautifully.

DEAR ABBY: I'm 6 feet 2 inches, weigh 240 pounds and can bench-press 400 pounds. I practice martial arts and shoot firearms for recreation and competition on weekends. I generally keep my social life to myself unless I am specifically asked because people have made jokes at my expense in the past.

I have worked for the same company for 10 years, and have not only mastered every aspect of my job but also trained most of my co-workers and their supervisors.

Recently, a supervisor's position opened up, and many thought I was going to get it. A friend was hired instead. He apologized to me, then told me about things that had been said about me behind my back. Apparently, I'll never become a supervisor because "people don't respect me; they fear me." Also, they are "afraid I'll lose it and kill everyone."

I have no idea what to say or do with this information. I can't change who I am, and I can't change the way others see me after all this time. What would you suggest I do to get myself promoted? -- GENTLE GIANT IN FLORIDA

DEAR GENTLE GIANT: It is important that you find out whether what your friend told you is true. While your physique may be imposing, after 10 years at the company your co-workers should be familiar enough with your temperament to know that you do not pose a threat of "losing it."

Ask your employer why you were passed up for the promotion and if it's true that you have advanced as far as you can with the company. If the answer is yes, then you should look for a job with more opportunity for advancement elsewhere.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)