DEAR ABBY: Because of the downturn in the economy, I had to close my business. Let me tell you this -- if anyone wants to know who their real friends are, here's how: Own your own business.
Not one friend or family member has mentioned my business loss, much less offered condolences -- and they all know. People have told my husband, who was not part of the business, that they feel sorry for me, but no one will say anything to me about it. I feel like it's the elephant in the room at gatherings when no one mentions it.
Am I wrong to feel hurt by this? I don't know what to do about it. I'm amazed at everyone's rudeness and total self-absorption. Have we become a society that talks to one another only when the news is good, but is too busy to tell people they are sorry for their loss? -- DEPRESSED IN UTAH
DEAR DEPRESSED: Their reluctance to bring the subject up is not because they don't care. It's more likely that they're afraid to say the wrong thing and are afraid they'll make you feel bad if they mention it. This happens often when serious illness strikes or when there is a death in a family. Your friends and relatives don't realize that it's enough to say, "I heard what happened and I'm sorry," which would give you a chance to vent or change the subject if you didn't feel like talking.
I'm glad you wrote because your letter is timely. With businesses closing and people being laid off in record numbers, it is important that they not feel more isolated than they already do. You may not be able to solve an unlucky friend's problem, but knowing you care goes a long way.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were married five years ago. We had a lovely, informal wedding with close friends and loved ones.
I am ashamed to say that I am such a procrastinator that I never mailed any thank-you notes for our gifts. I was raised that it is proper to send them in a timely fashion, but after a certain amount of time passed, I felt too embarrassed to do it.
Abby, every so often the guilt haunts me. I feel terrible for not sending them, and have made a point of telling young couples being married that they need to make sure they send their thank-yous out promptly or they'll regret it.
What should I do? Chalk it up to a life lesson about good manners, or send out thank-you notes five years late with my apologies? -- OOPS! IN MIDDLETOWN, VA.
DEAR OOPS!: Sometimes for someone to do the right thing takes a "gentle nudge" from an advice columnist, so please allow me: The people who gave you the wedding presents likely have not forgotten that they didn't hear a word from you. So, START WRITING. Do what you know you should have done in the first place. Better late than never.
DEAR ABBY: My wife says it's impolite to point at a person or thing when drawing attention to it. We argue about this small matter all the time. Am I wrong in insisting it's OK? Thanks for your response. -- CHARLES IN MISSOURI
DEAR CHARLES: It is considered bad manners to point at a person because to do so conveys the message that he -- or she -- is being talked about and possibly made fun of. Pointing at objects is a lazy way of communicating something you should be able to put into words, but it's nothing to argue about. On a scale of 10, it's a zero.
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