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His encyclopedias speak volumes to him

His plan is to pass them on to our child or grandchildren.

DEAR ABBY: My husband tends to be a major clutter bug. We had an argument last night about him storing a set of encyclopedias. My argument is that we have never used them and never will, since they are "dinosaurs" in today's modern world. Any information can be looked up digitally.

He was given these encyclopedias by his grandparents, so he feels they have a "deeper meaning." Although he has never once used them, he says they make the bookshelf look nicer. We recently got rid of the bookshelf and now he wants to store them in our already-cluttered attic.

His plan is to pass them on to our child or grandchildren. I don't think they would want to inherit them, as they take up so much space and there are more efficient ways to find information. Please help.

- Frustrated Wife in Connecticut

DEAR WIFE: The encyclopedias do have a deeper meaning for your husband that almost surely has less to do with "looking nice on a bookshelf" than their sentimental value. They symbolize the love his grandparents had for him, as well as the idea that he can pass an heirloom down to the next generations.

Please relent about boxing them up and making room for them in the attic. At some point, your husband will probably arrive at the same conclusion that you have - after they have been refused by the progeny for whom he has been saving them. And try to hang on to your sense of humor, because this isn't worth arguing over.

DEAR ABBY: What should someone do when gifts received via mail or UPS have been damaged in transit? We have received some ceramic objects for Christmas in the last two years. Both were packed and sent by the givers.

My wife would rather remain silent about the damage to avoid the appearance that a replacement is expected. I contend that the damage should be mentioned and that no replacement is necessary when writing the thank-you note, or even that certain gifts should be avoided in the future. Otherwise, the sender has no way of knowing that a better packaging job is necessary. Also, there may be some (insurance) recourse with the carrier.

- "Busted" in Pennsylvania

DEAR "BUSTED": The giver should be thanked, and the fact that the gift arrived damaged should be mentioned. It's smart to insure packages before sending, so if the contents are damaged, there will be compensation. But even if they weren't insured, the sender should be informed that the gift arrived broken, so the next time precautions can be taken before the item is shipped.

However, I do not agree with stating that in the future such gifts should be avoided, because it would imply the gift was unwelcome or inappropriate.