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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a gay woman. My partner, "Jenny," and I have been friends with another couple for 15 years. Over the last year I have come to realize that I no longer want to be friends with them. One of them has been particularly unkind to me, and frankly, we don't have a lot in common.

Jenny is uncomfortable with my decision and wants me to talk to them to discuss my feelings. They have already asked her if there's a problem. If I talk to them, I'm sure they will be offended by what I have to say because I didn't say anything when the issues first arose. I'm not good at confrontation, and it's hard for me to tell someone my feelings are hurt.

The bottom line is, I want out of this couple's friendship. But I need to do it in a way that's OK with Jen. I met the couple through her, and she wants to continue her friendship with them. Please help. -- MOVING ON IN GEORGIA

DEAR MOVING ON: It would not be confrontational to tell them that while you have known each other for a long time, you feel you have grown apart. You should also mention that your feelings were hurt when one of them said "( )." At least that way they will understand why you have disappeared, and Jenny won't be left with the responsibility of explaining it to them.

DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I recently received a wedding invitation from a friend of his from high school. Our wedding is not far away, and I have an etiquette question.

Although it wasn't stated on the invitation where the bride and groom were registered, a Facebook message was sent after our invitation arrived in the mail. It said, "In lieu of gifts, people can donate monetarily to the couple" -- by check or cash the day of the wedding, or via a Paypal account they have set up.

I'm confused. I grew up (and still live in) the South, and this doesn't seem like a traditional approach to gift-giving. Isn't it considered inappropriate to ask for money? -- MYSTIFIED BRIDE IN ALABAMA

DEAR MYSTIFIED: Yes, it is. To solicit money the way that couple did is crude. An acceptable way to get the word out about the type of gifts couples prefer is by word of mouth. Guests usually ask if a couple is registered and where, and when the question is raised, it's all right to tell them. If you have created a wedding website, the information can be included on it; however, it shouldn't be so blatant that it appears gifts are uppermost in your mind.

When couples prefer a gift of money, the proper way the information should be conveyed is verbally by your family or friends, but not by you.

DEAR ABBY: I love the holiday season, but I often feel the blues and get a little depressed. I lost my father on Christmas Day several years ago and have since lost a brother to cancer. I'm tired of feeling this way when this is the season to be merry. What can I do? -- ANOTHER BLUE CHRISTMAS IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR BLUE: I am sorry for your losses. Because of your father's death on Christmas Day, it may always bring some sense of loss. However, an effective way to distract yourself would be to spend time in the company of friends who understand your feelings. Another would be to volunteer at a senior center, shelter or food distribution program. Helping someone else through a difficult time is the surest cure for the blues. Please give it a try.

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