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Parents pooh-pooh Christmas

Dear Abby: When I was a little girl, my family's idea of celebrating Christmas was opening some presents and renting a movie. I'm 15 now, and my parents barely acknowledge the holiday.

Last year on Christmas Day, my mother slept until after noon, then handed me $100. Dad did the same. I was grateful for the money, but a little hurt that they put no effort into buying gifts.

I am tired of trying to think up thoughtful gifts while all I get is a check handed to me without so much as a "Merry Christmas." Would I sound ungrateful if I asked my parents to put a little more thought into celebrating the holidays this year?

-- Not So Jolly Christmas

Dear Not So Jolly: Yes, you would. You might get a better result if you simply told your parents that you miss celebrating the holidays with them the way you have in the past, and ask them why things have changed. I'm sure you will find their answer to be enlightening.

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An etiquette question

Dear Abby: I know the holidays can be a stressful time of year -- and even more so when there has been a death in someone's family.

When a friend or family member loses a loved one, such as a child or close friend, what is the proper etiquette regarding gifts you may have sent or have sitting under the tree? What should the bereaved family do with the gifts? I must admit, I am curious -- especially being a member of the armed forces.

-- Marie in Canada

Dear Marie: If you are asking whether the gift(s) should be returned to the sender, I am sure the grieving family (or close friend) will have other things to think about that take precedence. Once a gift is sent, it should be up to the surviving relatives to decide whether to keep it or dispose of it -- whether by donating it, selling it or returning it to the sender.

Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com.

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