Dear Abby: An ungrateful nation skips thank-you notes

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DEAR ABBY: In my opinion, too many young people today are shortchanged when it comes to manners and etiquette.

The knowledge of how wonderful it is to receive written acknowledgment of gifting is rapidly fading. A quick note of appreciation for any kind of thoughtful gesture lifts the giver’s spirit. Receiving recognition for a tangible gift, time spent lending a hand or a shared meal puts a smile on his or her face. These things are not entitlements; they are gifts from the heart.

I urge young parents to teach this courteous gesture to their children. Abby, I know your letters booklet has a section on thank-yous. Maybe it’s time you mention it again. — SHERRIE IN CHEHALIS, WASH.

DEAR SHERRIE: If there is one topic that shows up repeatedly in my mail, it’s thank-you notes — or, rather, the lack of them. It’s such a common aggravation that I receive dozens of complaints in every batch of emails or letters I receive.

While letter-writing may always be a chore to some people, there are occasions when the written message is the only proper means of communication. My Dear Abby Letters Booklet was written to serve as a guide to those who put off writing because they don’t know what to say or how to say it.

It contains sample letters for readers to use to show appreciation for a birthday, Christmas, shower or wedding gift. There are also examples of letters that are difficult to write, such as expressing condolences to someone who has lost a parent or a child, or for an untimely death such as a suicide or an overdose.

My letters booklet can be ordered by sending your name, mailing address and a check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to Dear Abby Letters Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

And remember Rule No. 1: The important thing about letter-writing is to say what you want to say, say it so you can be easily understood, and say it so that it sounds like you.

DEAR ABBY: My parents are refusing to pay for me to attend my dream school after learning that I am sexually active with my boyfriend of two years. (They liked him very much prior to learning this.) He’s in school in France. They say it would be a “sin” to pay for me to attend school in the same city he’s in, and they expect me to stay home and go to a local community college. Would it be wrong to disobey their wishes and take out my own student loans? —PARENTS VS. BOYFRIEND IN FRANCE

DEAR P VS. B: I not only think it would be wrong, I’m afraid it could be a disaster for you. What if the relationship doesn’t work out? When you take out those loans, you will be responsible for repaying that debt for many years. Before you make that decision, I urge you to carefully consider the kind of jobs that will be available in the field you’re interested in pursuing. If what you’re really interested in pursuing is your boyfriend, you might be better off staying home.

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

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