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Dear Abby 10/31

Bad gifts from relatives are waste of good money

    DEAR ABBY: Every year I receive baked goods from a friend who lives across the country. They are petrified by the time they arrive. About the same time, I get food baskets containing highly processed food and waxy chocolate candies (heart attack inducers, I call them) by mail-order from several family members. I have never eaten this kind of food. I throw it all right in the trash.
    It bothers me to be wasteful, but I don't want the stuff, and it's not suitable to give to a shelter. I have asked repeatedly that any gifts to me be donations to charities of their choice. It doesn't matter what I say; I keep getting stuff I don't want.
    Any ideas how I can get my message across without being perceived as rude or ungrateful? -- PIQUED IN PALM DESERT
    DEAR PIQUED: You have already gotten your message across. Your friend and family members have chosen to ignore it. Your name is probably part of a long list that is routinely submitted to these mail-order companies every year — and removing it may take more effort than these people are willing to exert.
    Even though you have never eaten "this kind of food," plenty of others do. Rather than letting it go to waste, offer it to friends, neighbors and co-workers. Don't just throw it away.

    DEAR ABBY: I would like your advice on how to develop a "thick skin." I volunteer at a retail store for a local nonprofit organization. A nasty customer recently came in and yelled at me and insulted me in front of other customers. I was so upset I left the store in tears. The incident happened several days ago, and I am still upset.
    I know this person does not know me, and with luck I'll never see him again, yet I can't seem to let it go. This isn't the first time I have felt this way, as I tend to take things very personally.
    I am always impressed by people who can shrug off rude or confrontational remarks. Is it possible to learn to be less sensitive? --- TOO WIMPY IN TEXAS
    DEAR "TOO WIMPY": Yes, it is. The first step is to stop calling yourself names. The second is to accept that sometimes unpleasant incidents occur because (1) the other person is having a bad day, or (2) the other person has no class and feels entitled to dump on anyone he or she feels is in a subservient position.
    This has nothing to do with you, your efficiency, or your value as a human being. It is only about "them" and their inadequacy. Once you understand that, you'll be less vulnerable.

    DEAR ABBY: I lost my wife a little over two years ago and have met a beautiful lady who lost her husband around the same time. We've been dating a lot lately, and we don't see anyone else. We love each other.
    How should I introduce her to people? Should I say, "This is my girlfriend"? or should I say, "This is my ladyfriend"? I am in my 60s. -- JOE IN NEW JERSEY
    DEAR JOE: I have a third alternative. Say, "This is my special friend." People will quickly catch on to the fact that you are sweet on each other. People who are in love usually radiate that fact.
    DEAR READERS: I have joined some of Hollywood's biggest names in the fight against breast cancer by signing and decorating one of Munchkin's limited-edition pink ducks to be auctioned on eBay.
    "Don't Duck a Breast Exam" is the theme of this year's Project Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. One hundred percent of the net proceeds will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for each pink duck sold through Nov. 30.
    If you want to see and bid on "D'Abby Duck," my personally decorated rubber duckie, visit www.munchkin.com/projectpink through Nov. 5 and take a "quack" at it! Together we can make a difference. -- LOVE, ABBY

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