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by Abigail Van Buren

Red Flags Remain in Romance That Returns After 47 Years

DEAR ABBY: After many years of fiscal responsibility, hard work and sacrifice, we are set to pay off the mortgage on our house this year. I want to throw an old-fashioned open house/home mortgage-burning party and burn the mortgage in the smoker after the turkey is done. My wife and I never had a reception after our wedding so long ago. I think we are due a party to celebrate this milestone.

My wife is against it. She says too many of our friends and family have financial troubles and a mortgage-burning party would rub their noses in it. She has "loaned" her brother $50,000 over the years, and more to her friends. Most of them have yet to repay.

I think a mortgage-burning party would be an example for them to strive for and achieve, and we deserve to celebrate. Your answer will determine if we have the party. If you vote "yes," you are invited. -- BIG ACHIEVEMENT

DEAR BIG: Mortgage-burning parties went out of fashion decades ago for many reasons. Among them, the fact that many homeowners no longer live in the same place long enough to pay their mortgages in full. Today many people choose to refinance their loan rather than pay it off.

As much as I'd like to attend your party, I have to vote with your wife. To invite guests whom you know are having money troubles to such an event would be insensitive. If you are in a celebratory mood, by all means throw a party, but be discreet and refrain from flaunting your success in the faces of your guests.