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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple Opts to Visit Home for Holidays From a Hotel

DEAR ABBY: For the first time in eight years, my husband and I will be staying in a hotel when we visit his parents for Christmas. While I love his family, their home is small, and we are relegated to a trundle bed and must share the sole bathroom with the entire family. It's impossible for us to be comfortable with so many people in such close quarters. We assumed that sleeping in a nearby hotel and visiting during the days and evenings would be a fair compromise.

We were shocked at their reaction when we discussed our plans with the family. They are very hurt about our decision and extremely offended. They are begging us to reconsider and stay in their home.

Are our actions selfish and cold-hearted? We mean no harm, and are so surprised at the strong reaction that we're starting to question our judgment. Should we travel and stay in the hotel, or just scrap the trip altogether? -- STAYING HOME NEXT YEAR

DEAR STAYING HOME: No, you, your husband and his parents should discuss this more fully. You didn't mention how many family members will be spending the holidays in that small house. While I sympathize with family traditions, as children grow into adulthood certain realities come into play.

If you prefer to sleep in a hotel and have a private bathroom and the ability to have a private conversation if you wish, I don't think it's too much to ask. But I'd hate to see you cancel a family visit because of the pressure that is being exerted. That's in no one's best interests.

DEAR ABBY: I'd like to offer another example of an act of kindness that might be worthy of your column. My youngest daughter and her little girl were traveling across several states after visiting her two brothers, a sister and me.

My daughter had a CB in her car and while she was driving, was talking on and off with different truckers on the road. A car full of young men began to harass her by tailgating, passing her dangerously close, then pulling sharply in front of her and slowing down. Each time she'd manage to pass them, the harassment would begin again.

She related her problem over the CB to a trucker. As if by magic, three trucks appeared! One got behind her, and another maneuvered in front -- while a third sort of "nudged" the offending car out of her way, then positioned his rig alongside my daughter's car. Those truckers talked to her the whole time and continued in formation until the men who'd been hassling her gave up and took off.

The truckers continued to maintain contact with my daughter until she reached her exit, and I am deeply grateful to them. Because I never got to thank them personally, I hope they'll read this in your column.

Abby, may God continue to guide you as you strive to assist others, and watch over you always. -- MOM MC C. IN OHIO

DEAR MOM MC C.: Thank you for the blessing, and for the testimonial that acts of chivalry still occur on our highways. Perhaps your letter will motivate other motorists to watch out for the other guy -- or gal, as the case may be.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)