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Giving as good as receiving

Dear Abby: You sometimes publish letters regarding random acts of kindness. I know people like to share how blessed they are that others have given to them. Well, I would like to share how being the giver is a blessing as well.

My children and I eat lunch out on Saturdays. Most recently, we went to one of our favorite restaurants. As we were being seated, I noticed an elderly gentleman eating alone. He read the paper, ate his meal and kept to himself. I was struck by how alone he seemed to be. All during the lunch, I couldn't shake the feeling that I should reach out.

Finally, I gave in. I went to the counter and paid for his meal.

When the waitress brought our check to the table, she asked if we knew the man. I responded no, that we just wanted to do something nice. She then confided to me that he was a regular there, but she hadn't seen him lately because he had just lost his wife.

Abby, I was so glad I had followed my heart and reached out. I can only pray that he was as pleased by my anonymous gift as I was to give it.

-- Receiving By Giving in Illinois

Dear Receiving By Giving: I'm sure he was. Your letter illustrates the pleasure that comes when we follow the dictates of our hearts. I applaud your generous gesture.

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Sending hugs and kisses

Dear Abby: I am 8 years old. At the bottom of a letter, sometimes people write XOXO. Which one means hug and which one means kiss?

-- Anna in Missouri

Dear Anna: The "X" means kiss and the "O" signifies a hug.

P.S. Some people write "SWAK" on the flap of the envelope, which stands for "sealed with a kiss."

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

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