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Holiday greetings get humbug response from offended aunt

Dear Abby: I confess, I can be a procrastinator. Last year, my holiday cards sat on my desk, blank and unaddressed until almost Easter, when it was far too late to send them. This year, I figured brevity was better than not getting them sent, so I had photo cards made and wrote short notes on each before mailing them.

Several of my relatives have now told me they felt "snubbed and offended" by my short notes. One aunt is particularly upset and said (via my mother) that my cards "clearly showed I don't care about people, and I should have written proper letters or sent nothing."

Was I wrong to think "some" card was better than no card at all? Also, how should I appease the aunt who is not speaking to me over this? – Holiday Card Writer, Akron, Ohio

Dear Holiday Card Writer: I don't think you were wrong. As to appeasing your aunt, who appears to be one of those individuals who hang onto imagined slights and delivers her messages via other people, perhaps you should consider leaving her off your Christmas card list from now on for fear of offending her further. Some people are just not "pleasable," and your aunt may be one of them.

Dear Abby: My 20-year-old son, "P.J.," dresses in Army fatigues when he goes out. His clothes and boots – including name patches – make him look like a soldier. Because he seems so fascinated with the outfit, I asked him if he wants to consider joining the military. He said he's not interested, he just likes "the look."

I'm embarrassed when we're out together. Friends have commented, "I didn't know P.J. enlisted." My response is, "He's not in the military. He just likes to dress the part." When strangers have approached him and thanked him for his service and for protecting our country, he actually says, "You're welcome!"

When I try to talk to him about it, he gets angry and tells me to mind my own business. I feel he's representing himself as someone he's not. He does have a job. He buys his military gear online and at military shops.

How am I supposed to respond when people ask me obvious questions? Isn't it illegal to dress in Army attire when you're not affiliated with the military? – Mom Of A Civilian in West Virginia

Dear Mom: I can see why you are embarrassed. You should be. What your son is doing may not be illegal, but it IS dishonest.

When you are asked if he is in the military, you should continue to tell the truth. Because your son doesn't set people straight when he is thanked for his service, what he's doing is disrespectful, unethical and unfair to anyone who actually HAS served.

Dear Abby: I live in a small rural town with lots of nice neighbors. During the holidays, I receive a variety of delicious homemade gifts -- jams, cookies, breads and other specialties.

I am careful about my diet and consume no white flour or sugar. This means I must thank the person for the gifts, then figure out what to do with them. I hate throwing them out, and I don't know how to stop the practice. What's the best way to handle this annual dilemma? – Unsure in New England

Dear Unsure: If you work, consider bringing the goodies with you and sharing them with your co-workers. Or, donate them to a shelter or senior center where they might be enjoyed and appreciated.

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, CA 90069.

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