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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Happy To Be Alone Attracts Unwanted Sympathy

DEAR ABBY: I just started seasonal housecleaning, and I'm realizing my house is filled with useless knickknacks. When I get rid of an unneeded item, I remember who gave it to me and the special occasion associated with the gift. Then I start feeling guilty and wonder if I will later regret my decision to discard it.

My other issue is, I live in a small town. I'm afraid if I donate something to a local charity, friends or neighbors may see it at the thrift store, and I'll seem ungrateful for their thoughtfulness. How can I get over these feelings of guilt as I declutter? -- CRAMPED IN THE CAROLINAS

DEAR CRAMPED: Once a gift (or tchotchke) is given, it is the recipient's to do with as she chooses. If someone challenges your decision to donate an item, do not become defensive. Calmly explain that you are downsizing and decided to "share the pleasure" the item brought you with someone else.