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Man buying his own gifts is selling his wife short

Dear Abby: Twice in recent years my husband has bought a gift for himself for Christmas, wrapped it, put it under the tree and then opened it on Christmas morning, gleefully exclaiming that it was a great gift and just what he wanted.

The first time he did it, he wrote my name on the gift card as the giver. The second time he didn't bother. When I asked him why, he said it was something he saw in the store and wanted. When I asked why he didn't just ask me to get it, he didn't have an answer. He has also bought cards for himself for Valentine's Day. On both of them he wrote, "To Larry from 'Hon,'" his pet name for me.

I was flabbergasted and upset and asked him why he would do such a thing. He said he ran across the "perfect card" for him while looking for one for me.

I don't know what to make of his behavior, but it is demeaning and I feel angry for days afterward. He has a habit of comparing my gifts with those from his son or those he bought for himself, and it makes me feel as if mine don't measure up. My husband is 77. What's wrong with him? – Perplexed in Florida

Dear Perplexed: It appears you married someone who likes to buy on impulse and is insensitive to how his words and actions affect others. Look on the bright side: He's solved the problem of what to get the man who has everything for you! However, because this is a recent change in his behavior, consider reporting it to his doctor.

Dear Abby: I have received several invitations to parties recently in which I was asked to do part of the work or participate in some of the expenses.

The one that really took the cake was to a party hosted by my boss. She had decided to celebrate her birthday at her house, and when I and my co-workers RSVP'd, we were asked what type of dish we planned to bring. We also discovered that only invited EMPLOYEES were asked to bring food. Her "real friends" weren't asked to bring anything. Needless to say, all but one employee remembered they had a "conflict."

If someone doesn't have the time or money to host a party, there are plenty of inexpensive foods, disposable tableware, etc., that can be used in a pleasant, cost-effective event without burdening – financially or otherwise – invited guests. What matters is getting together to celebrate and socialize and have a good time with friends and family. Abby, your thoughts? – Unhappy "Guest" in Missouri

Dear "Guest": I'm glad you asked. I agree with your sentiments. Your boss should be ashamed of herself for trying to use you and the other employees in the guise of having you as guests at her birthday party. How tacky!

Dear Abby: I'm attending a wedding in a few months. The bride has requested that all female guests not wear heels because they're a short couple. I don't have any flats that will go with my dress, so I will have to either buy new shoes or "disappoint" the bride. I've been hearing stories about wedding guests being told what colors to wear. I think brides (and couples) like this are going too far. What do you think? – Put Out in British Columbia

Dear Put Out: I think that if the bridal couple would like to feel a few inches taller on their big day, and buying a new pair of shoes would stretch your budget, you should consider having an old pair of flats dyed to match your dress, or skip the festivities and send your good wishes.

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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