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Dear Abby: Creative gift comes from the heart, not the wallet

DEAR ABBY: I am sending along a gift suggestion for Father's Day for the dad who doesn't "need or want anything."


I am sending along a gift suggestion for Father's Day for the dad who doesn't "need or want anything."

I recently celebrated a major birthday and my four dear adult children, all living in different parts of the country, collaborated electronically to record some of their favorite memories of their years at home - some humorous, some touching, some surprising. These were written on tiny bits of paper, carefully folded or scrolled and packed into a small wooden box. There were 365 in all, with the expectation that I'd have one a day for a year.

I was so taken with the delight of reading them, however, that I read them all in two weeks! My heart will be warmed for a very long time.

- Dear Old Dad in Maine

DEAR DAD: What a wonderful idea - and bless you for sharing it. Readers, listen up! It's a gift that costs little but time and thought, but is brimming with true meaning.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have done many things over the years to help out our son and daughter-in-law, "Cathy," including sending money, clothing, diapers, food and baby-sitting our grandchildren. Our son expresses appreciation for our help, but Cathy is another matter.

We send clothing for the babies, but there is no acknowledgment that it even arrived. When we take them gifts in person, without a word of thanks she asks if we have the receipts so she can return them.

Cathy will eat or drink in our presence but offer us nothing. She is insensitive, self-centered and often just plain rude. She seems to have no clue about how to be gracious. My wife is near tears at the end of every visit. It drives us nuts to be treated like this.

I am afraid our grandchildren will grow up imitating their mother's rude and disrespectful behavior. My wife does not want me to speak with our son about this because she's afraid we'll never see the grandchildren again. Can you give us some guidance as to what we should do?

- Cleveland Reader

DEAR READER: Yes. Speak privately with your son and tell him how hurt his mother is at the treatment she has received. While it's possible that Cathy was raised having learned none of the social graces, it is disconcerting that your son would sit silently by and watch it happen. He should insist that his parents be shown more respect, and if necessary, explain and demonstrate for her exactly what that means.

DEAR ABBY: Several couples recently spent a week together on an excursion with each couple paying for their own lodging and meals. One couple complained at every meal about the cost. These meals were not overly expensive, and the couple can well afford everything they spent.

Is there a kind way to express that the rest of us were not comfortable with this behavior (often the wait staff overheard, and it was embarrassing) or should we just exclude them in the future?

- Mealtime Adventure

DEAR MEALTIME ADVENTURE: This couple may not have the money you assume they have, or they may prefer to spend it in other ways than at restaurants. Obviously, what wasn't overly expensive to you was more than they had planned on spending for their meals or they wouldn't have spoken up. Rather than telling them that it made you uncomfortable, invite another couple whose values more closely mirror your own to accompany you on future excursions.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby - Cookbooklet Set, Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)