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by Abigail Van Buren

Request to Abstain Threatens to Dampen Birthday Celebration

DEAR ABBY: I am going to my girlfriend's mother's 60th birthday party. I just found out that her younger sister is pregnant -- unbeknownst to her parents -- and she plans to surprise them the next day on their mom's actual birthdate. The little sister has asked that we not drink at the dinner because she doesn't want to feel left out. This caused an argument between me and my girlfriend because I think her request is silly and kind of selfish.

Is there a rule of etiquette about this? Isn't it weird that someone would ask that you not drink a couple of beers or a glass of wine at a birthday dinner? If I'm on a diet, I don't ask people to eat only salad or to order less around me. I think she should make a "headache/not feeling well" excuse rather than try to limit/control the fun of others. -- SOCIAL DRINKER

DEAR SOCIAL DRINKER: No rule of etiquette covers this. I agree that you shouldn't have to abstain at the celebration if you prefer to indulge. However, the decision should be voluntary and not imposed upon you. Your girlfriend may prefer not to have alcohol that night to support her sister, but that doesn't mean you must.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Etiquette & Ethics | Health & Safety