DEAR ABBY: I had to write after reading the letter from "Ready to Serve in New Hampshire" (Feb. 23), who felt compelled to delay her dinner party when her guests brought fresh vegetables from their garden.
My husband's summer hobby is a large vegetable garden, and he, too, enjoys giving away the fruits of his labor. When we are invited to dine with friends, he also brings a gift of his wonderful vegetables. But in no way does he expect our hosts to prepare them for us. They are intended for the family to enjoy at future meals.
I doubt that "Ready's" guests intended for her to cook those veggies, either. She should have thanked them and stored their gift for future dining. -- FARMER'S WIFE IN KANSAS
DEAR FARMER'S WIFE: Most of the letters I received commenting on that question agreed that the woman had stressed out needlessly, and that common sense dictated the items should be consumed later. However, some other readers wanted to share their own experiences when receiving and giving edible gifts. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I often bring a basket of vegetables from my garden as a house gift, especially if someone had commented on my garden. Never in my wildest dreams would I think my hosts would put everything on hold in order to serve the veggies immediately. If I brought homemade bath salts as a gift, I wouldn't expect the hosts to stop what they were doing and take a bath.
"Ready's" friends did nothing wrong. She overreacted to their kind gesture. -- GREEN THUMB IN AMARILLO, TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: What on earth made "Ready to Serve" think she was supposed to cook the items her guests brought to her home? If they were meant to be served that evening, they would have already been prepared. My guess is that the guests eat those fresh vegetables every day while they are in season, and the last thing they'd want to do is eat them again at somebody else's house.
"Ready" made a mistake and then got frustrated. Just because I take fresh eggs to my friends when they invite me to dinner doesn't mean I want them scrambled for the meal. -- COUNTRY GIRL FROM THE SOUTH
DEAR ABBY: A Southerner by birth and training, it is not in me to forgo bringing a host/hostess gift to dinner, no matter how informal the meal. I also would not expect my gift to be used then and there.
"Ready" should have smiled graciously and said, "Oh, how lovely! Bob and I will certainly eat well this week." Those of us who bring edible gifts should indicate that they are intended for later enjoyment. -- SOUTHERN GENT
DEAR ABBY: Who invites guests over for dinner and has the meal ready to serve as they arrive? How about a little conversation while dinner is being prepared? How about some time to relax and talk before sitting down to the table?
The fresh vegetables this couple brought could be added to the menu if desired, but a matter of 15 or 20 minutes' preparation time shouldn't be the deciding factor. -- JOHN C. IN POMPANO BEACH, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 47-year-old male and grateful to "Ready" for bringing back some wonderful memories of summers at my Grandmother Ruby's house. We spent many a summer gardening together. We would take vegetables over to friends and family, and they'd do the same for us. It was Ruby's way to show off her garden and share its bounty with others.
When my grandmother received such a gift, she would always make a big deal of it and, if the veggies were pre-cleaned, would place them in a basket and use them for a centerpiece. Thanks for helping me remember a wonderful time. -- SMILING STILL IN SAN ANGELO, TEXAS