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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: We sent a check to our niece a month before her marriage as a wedding gift to her and her fiance. The amount was generous, and we felt any young couple would be delighted to receive it. We also attended their out-of-state wedding.

Four months after we sent the check, it had neither been cashed nor had we received any acknowledgment that it had been received. I contacted my sister to verify that it hadn't been lost only to be told that my niece was "embarrassed by the large amount of the check and could not accept it"! Have you ever heard of such a thing? We think it is rude on multiple counts: First, evaluating the gift; second, rejecting the gift; and finally, not feeling obligated to even acknowledge it.

I'm boiling mad. My sister was the one who suggested "money" when we asked what the bride could use as a gift. We always felt that any gift -- large or small, liked or not -- should be graciously accepted and acknowledged. Have you any thoughts on this? -- FURIOUS IN ARIZONA

DEAR FURIOUS: Yes -- and congratulations. Your letter is a first. I have heard of brides complaining that a gift of money wasn't large enough -- but never that it was "too large." Could there be some additional tensions in the family that prevented your niece from telling you that your generosity was more than she could comfortably accept? If so, she could have returned it with a note thanking you and explaining the reason why.

Your thoughts regarding etiquette are absolutely correct. Any gift -- or kind deed -- should be graciously acknowledged.

DEAR ABBY: Our youngest son was honored at his groom's dinner last month. As I looked down our table, six of our guests were fixated on sending/receiving text messages on their cell phones. One young woman sat staring off into space because no one had made any attempt to engage her in conversation.

Finally, I remarked that this was rude and that people should shut off their gadgets and get to know one another. These people were invited to honor my son who was being married. It did not go over well. I got comments like, "What's wrong with that?" "Oh, I have taken my knitting to these events," and, "I do this all the time." My thought was, "Well, stay home then and text away!"

Is it so hard for people to tune in and turn on to what is going on around them and forgo their "toys" during special life events? I am ... TIRED OF TECHNOLOGY

DEAR TIRED OF TECHNOLOGY: Obviously it is. But some people are so "addicted" to their electronic devices that they literally go into a form of withdrawal if they can't check for messages every few minutes. I agree that what happened was rude. But having discussed this subject with more than one psychiatrist, what I'm hearing is that many individuals today who effectively communicate on their devices, have difficulty engaging in eye-to-eye, one-on-one social interaction. That may explain the phenomenon you observed at the party.

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