DEAR ABBY: Christmas is coming, and I dread it. I have only my brother, his wife and their kids. I'm on Social Security disability and I barely make it each month. They buy me gifts, but I feel embarrassed to accept them because I can't buy anything for them. Even though I have nothing to offer my nieces, my brother and sister-in-law persuade me to go anyway. They are financially much better off than I am.
I lost my wife a year ago. I see everyone else having someone in their lives and I feel alone. The holidays hurt. What can I do?
- Miserable in Massachusetts
DEAR MISERABLE: You have something to give to your relatives. It's the gift of your presence. If you have a talent, share it with them.
Because this is your first Christmas without your wife, it's no wonder you feel alone. A way to lessen the sense of isolation would be to do something for someone else. Volunteer at a food bank, a homeless shelter, a senior center. It will give you less time to brood, and you will feel welcome and needed.
DEAR ABBY: I recently went on a first (and last) date with a "gentleman." He ordered himself a beer and a prime-rib dinner. He never asked me if I wanted anything to eat or drink.
I have a theory: Men today are different from those of the past, and my guess it's because the pierced and tattooed gals today speak and act like sailors, therefore ruining it for the rest of us. Am I right?
- Puzzled in Florida
DEAR PUZZLED: No. You need to speak up! The "rules of dating" have changed over the last decades. Many women expect - and prefer - to pay for their own meal and drinks on a first date. It has nothing to do with whether they are tattooed or use four-letter words. They like their independence, and sometimes earn more than their dates do.