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Dear Abby: Bad news dampens delight over best friend’s generosity

Dear Abby: My husband’s best friend gave us a very generous gift for our toddler. However, it arrived with the news that the baby he and his girlfriend are expecting may have serious complications, which could result in termination of the pregnancy. Abby, I am also expecting.

I know I should send them a thank-you note, but I don’t want to sound overly cheerful when someone is obviously suffering. Is there a way to appropriately express our thanks in writing while still being sensitive?

Lost For Words

Dear Lost: My advice is to stay on message. Thank the man for his generous gift and say how much it is appreciated. If you wish to express concern for the difficult time they are going through, do so without going into detail. It’s sufficient to say that he and his girlfriend are in your thoughts and prayers. Make no reference to your own pregnancy because it’s not relevant.

Seeking a quiet dinner

Dear Abby: I work with the public and make small talk all day long. At the end of a busy day, I like to go to a neighborhood restaurant by myself for a quiet dinner. My problem is the owner, “Giovanni.” He’s a very nice man, and he’ll sit down at my table to chat, often for the entire meal.

I can’t think of a polite way to ask that I be left alone without hurting his feelings. Any suggestions?

– Hungry and Tired in the East

Dear H And T: A polite way to do it would be to say, “Giovanni, I like you very much. But I have had a hard day. All I want to do is sit down, eat my food and stare into space. Please understand.” Unless he is very new to the hospitality, business he should regard that as his cue to back off.

Laundry interference

Dear Abby: I live with my parents and when my mom does laundry, she always asks me if I want to throw any of my clothes in with hers and vice versa. The problem is, when the cycle is finished, she throws everything into the dryer – even items that will shrink or wrinkle. I’ve asked her not to do it, but she persists.

Now, I know what you’re going to say: “Do your own laundry.” I have tried. But if Mom hears the wash finish before I do, she goes out and chucks everything into the dryer.

I can’t think of a solution aside from doing my laundry when she is out of the house, which would be difficult because she’s retired. Any ideas?

– Frustrated in Columbus

Dear Frustrated: If your mother is also forgetting other things, it’s possible she may be in the early stages of dementia. However, if that’s not the case, then your solution is practical – or consider taking your things to a laundromat.