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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 13 and my boyfriend just moved to Colorado. He won't be back home for three years, but I promised I'd wait for him. Now I feel like I'm being tied down. It's not that I don't want to be with him anymore, but I'm lonely with his being away. I don't want to break his heart, but I want some freedom. What should I do? -- MISSING HIM IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR MISSING HIM: Send him a sweet note and tell him that you're lonely without him and didn't know what to do -- so you wrote to me. Tell him I said that while you may love each other, it would be better for both of you to socialize while he is away. This is an important growth period for you both -- and if your relationship is meant to be permanent, you can resume it where you left off when he returns.

DEAR ABBY: For the past few holidays we have had to accept the fact that my sister-in-law was bringing her husband and her boyfriend to family holiday dinners. Last year we protested, saying it was ridiculous and that we wouldn't come. (We don't want our kids thinking this is appropriate.) We relented when my mother-in-law said we were being unreasonable because the husband and boyfriend are OK with the situation.

We have ended up going in the past, but Thanksgiving is nearly here again and we're not "thankful" for this arrangement. How do you think we should handle this? -- RELATIVELY ODD IN JACKSONVILLE

DEAR RELATIVELY ODD: If your children are small, they will accept the "odd" man at the table as simply a good friend of their aunt and uncle, so I see no reason why you shouldn't join the family unless you personally dislike the man. However, if your children are old enough to understand that there is something romantic going on, make other plans for the holidays. To do otherwise would make it appear that you approve of what's going on, which you do not.

DEAR ABBY: My 40th wedding anniversary is right around the corner. Although it's a time for celebration, I know I'll end up feeling depressed and empty. The reason is our son "Trent," age 38, who lives 500 miles away.

Trent is great about recognizing holidays -- birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Christmas -- with a card, gift or phone call. But for some reason, he chooses to ignore our anniversary every year. I always mention it on Facebook or on the phone, but he never acknowledges it.

My husband says I shouldn't let it bother me, but it does. When Trent was a teenager, we went through some bad times and almost divorced. That was a long time ago, and things are different now. What am I missing here? -- SAD MOM IN TENNESSEE

DEAR SAD MOM: What you are "missing" is that your son remembers you on birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Christmas. Be grateful for what Trent does for you and stop trying to force him into remembering an occasion that, for whatever reason, may have unpleasant associations for him. Dwelling on what you're missing instead of what you've got is a prescription for misery.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)