DEAR ABBY: Halloween is around the corner, and my 7-year-old daughter has decided to be a cowgirl. She wants the boots, the hat and the gun.
Is it appropriate to let her have a holster and an obviously toy gun to accessorize her costume for trick-or-treating? She would not be taking that part of her costume to school on Halloween. I live in a part of the country where guns are an important part of our culture, but I am unsure how to proceed. -- CONFUSED ABOUT HALLOWEEN IN MONTANA
DEAR CONFUSED: Guns may be an important part of the culture where you live, but how do you feel about them? If it's all right with you, and the weapon your child carries is obviously a toy, then there should be no problem as you take her from house to house collecting her goodies. But there is nothing wrong with a 7-year-old cowgirl not having a gun and holster as part of her costume. If you need verification, have her check out the character Jessie in the movie "Toy Story 2."
P.S. Having her not take a toy gun to school is wise because many schools have strict policies about weapons -- including toy weapons -- being brought on campus.
DEAR ABBY: A female acquaintance recently asked me to submit a reference letter for her in order to help her in a custody battle with her ex-husband. She had problems with drugs and alcohol in the past, but has been sober for more than a year now. She wants the recommendation letter to reflect how much she has changed for the better.
I didn't know her a year ago and didn't witness the change. Also, from what little I have seen, her parenting skills are questionable at best. How do I proceed? Ignoring her request isn't an option because she has asked multiple times. -- ACQUAINTANCE IN GEORGIA
DEAR ACQUAINTANCE: Tell your acquaintance a version of what you have told me, that you're not comfortable writing the letter because you have known her only a relatively short time and haven't witnessed how far she has come. It's honest. (Do not mention that you think her parenting skills are lacking if you would like to maintain the relationship.)
DEAR ABBY: I often shop at a convenience store on the corner for various things. It is run by two men I see fairly often, but rarely talk to. I would like to thank them for being available nearly every hour of the week, year-round. How can I appropriately show my thanks?
I think supporting their business might be the best way, but I'm not sure what else to do other than simply continue buying from them. Do you have any advice? -- APPRECIATIVE IN ALBANY, N.Y.
DEAR APPRECIATIVE: I believe that if people have something nice to say, they shouldn't keep it inside. Tell the men their efforts are appreciated. I'm sure they'll be pleased to know their hard work is recognized. Other than that, mention it to others who live in the area. It's good publicity for the store, and it might increase their business.
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