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Posted on Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Friend's gifts go AWOL after wedding is canceled

By Dear Abby

Two years ago, my friend of more than 30 years was being married for the first time. Three days before the ceremony, "Caryn's" wedding planner emailed all the guests, saying the wedding was canceled. No explanation was given, and we were asked to "respect the bride's privacy" and refrain from contacting her.

I waited a week, then sent Caryn a note saying I was thinking about her. I had given her two shower gifts and a wedding present a month in advance.

Caryn has not returned the gifts. I didn't expect to get the lingerie back, but I did expect that the expensive tableware would be returned to me. In subsequent phone conversations -- and emails and texts -- she has never mentioned the gifts. Should I tell her I'd like my gift back or let it drop? Obviously, it's bothering me, but if you tell me I should forget about it, I will. -- DISGRUNTLED FRIEND IN CALIFORNIA

Either Caryn doesn't have a clue about proper wedding etiquette -- that if a wedding is canceled, all unused gifts should be returned -- or her fiance skipped out and took the gifts with him. I see no reason why, after all this time, you shouldn't ask your friend if she's planning on returning the gifts. Then you'll have your answer.

With Halloween fast approaching, my husband and I are again trying to figure out how to deal with a sticky situation. A few years ago, we took in the granddaughter of a dear friend who passed away. "Teresa" is mentally challenged and childlike at age 35.

She gets excited on holidays just like a youngster does. We usually stay home and observe the holidays without incident, but Halloween is different, because Teresa wants to go trick-or-treating and expects candy from people who may not understand.

We've tried in the past to suggest a party at church, but Teresa expects to collect goodies throughout the entire neighborhood, where we don't know everyone. People can be cruel and have made rude comments about Teresa's age and size. (She weighs 300 pounds.)

Is there anything we can do to help strangers understand? Can you think of something else exciting we can do that might interest Teresa and lessen her desire to go trick-or-treating? -- SPOOKED FOR HALLOWEEN

Teresa should not go trick-or-treating unescorted, and then, only to households where the residents know her or have been alerted to her condition, which should eliminate insensitive comments. If that doesn't work, then perhaps Teresa might enjoy handing out candy to trick-or-treaters who come to your door and celebrating the holiday that way.

I loaned a friend a significant amount of money, with the understanding that he would pay me a small amount every week for a year until it was repaid. For the most part he has been making the payments, but he has missed a few.

In the past, I have always given him a gift of $50 for his birthday and on Christmas. Would it be cheesy on my part to deduct the amount from what he owes me rather than give him cash on these occasions? -- DOIN' THE MATH IN SAN DIEGO

While I see your point, you're mixing apples and oranges. A loan is a loan, and a gift is a gift. Your chances of being repaid will be better if you don't mix the two.

(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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.)

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