DEAR ABBY: With the holiday shopping season already here, may I suggest another way to look at gift giving? We all want to give the perfect gift to family members. Some gifts can cost a lot of money and some not. I would like people to take a step back and consider who they are buying for.
I stopped buying gifts for my parents and sister 10 years ago. Because their money is tight, I have been stocking their pantries with food and staples. I am well off enough financially that I have been able to fill their freezers with enough meat to last three months or more.
At Thanksgiving, my husband and I load up our car and bring the meat with us. Then my mom, sister, grandma and I go to the grocery store and buy staples for the pantry and what we need to make freezer meals. Abby, this takes so much pressure off them.
Food is expensive. So instead of buying Dad that new TV or sound system, or your sister that designer handbag, pause and take a hard look at their situation. Sometimes the need for basics outweighs the desire for the latest and greatest gadgets. Even paying a bill or two can help. Or gift cards for groceries.
I never expect presents from my family; all I want is for them to have some freedom in their lives from the daily worries. -- NEW WAY OF GIFTING
DEAR NEW WAY: I'm pleased to share your letter with readers who may be wondering what to give their relatives at Christmas. And I'm sure that your generosity is deeply appreciated by your family. Thank you for writing.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been dining out with another couple about twice a month. We have not been able to entertain them at our home because it is not easily accessible and the man is in a wheelchair. Over the past several months his health has declined. His mind is sharp, but his body is weakening.
The last time we met them for dinner, we couldn't understand what he was saying, so his wife "interpreted." Also, when he tries to eat, the food falls out of his mouth onto a bib and from there to the floor.
Abby, we just don't know what to do. We really like this couple, but it is nauseating to watch him eat with food falling out of his mouth. Plus, the other patrons at the restaurants are starting to stare. We look forward to your advice. -- PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO STARE
DEAR PEOPLE: If this couple ever needed understanding friends, it's now. Because you are embarrassed to be seen with them in a restaurant, consider bringing a take-out meal to their home. Granted, watching your friend struggle is painful. But if he's going downhill as rapidly as you say, he needs your support more than ever, and so does his wife. And when he's gone, you'll know you did the right thing.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)