DEAR ABBY: Sept. 11 was the 10th birthday of our neighbors' little girl, "Megan." At church that day there was a lovely memorial prayer for the victims of 9/11, but no mention of Megan's birthday among the other special occasions of the week.
Megan's family went to the cemetery, put flowers on the memorial there and then went home. There was no party or cake for Megan. When I took over a card and a small gift, her mom thanked me but said the day was too sad for Megan to celebrate her birthday. She said they had never done so, not even on an alternate date.
I don't know this family very well. They're new to the neighborhood. But I was flabbergasted that they would act this way. When I asked about the birthdays of the other family members, I was told that since none of them fall on a "bad day" they are celebrated with parties, gifts and everything. Megan was allowed to accept my gift and thanked me, but her mom made it clear this was to be an exception to the rule. Abby, what gives? -- COMPLETELY BAFFLED IN WYOMING
DEAR COMPLETELY BAFFLED: I have no idea. That family's behavior is bizarre. What could possibly be gained by punishing a child for being born on a particular day? What you have described isn't respect for a day that was tragic for our country; it is cruelty to an innocent child.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I disagree about what we should do on our date nights away from our daughters. She's nine years younger than I am.
I don't feel comfortable going to dance clubs. I don't like crowds, fighting to get the bartender's attention for a drink or dancing with 25-year-olds.
I'd prefer listening to live music, staying home and enjoying an empty house or going somewhere quiet for dinner. My wife thinks what I like is "boring" and this is creating issues in our marriage.
I want her to be happy and for both of us to enjoy each other's company. We're having a difficult time finding a compromise. I feel like I'll never live up to her standards of what's fun and entertaining. Any suggestions? -- DATE NIGHT DILEMMA IN CHICAGO
DEAR DILEMMA: Yes, two of them. The first is to take turns choosing what you'll do on your date nights, so that you both have some of what you want. The second is to find some new activities you can enjoy as a couple. Shared interests will help you grow together.
DEAR ABBY: A woman at work is having a baby. I didn't get around to contributing to her group gift. I also didn't sign the card or mention my omission at the time of the baby shower.
A few days later I received a thank-you note. The mother-to-be obviously assumed I contributed. Money is extremely tight right now. Saving the $20 I was going to spend will help my budget. I don't think anyone picked up on my faux pas. Should I keep quiet? -- CONFLICTED IN MINNESOTA
DEAR CONFLICTED: You didn't commit a faux pas; you chose to abstain. I see no reason to announce that you didn't participate in the baby gift. Not contributing because it would have caused financial strain wasn't a breach of etiquette; it was prudent. If your name wasn't on the gift card, you misled no one.
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