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DEAR ABBY: My stepson "Steve" is getting married out of town. His fiancee is an only daughter with three brothers, and her family is throwing a large, traditional, formal wedding.
My husband and I have just been informed by Steve's mother that we are to host the rehearsal dinner for the wedding party, their spouses and out-of-town guests. It will cost thousands of dollars in addition to the cost of us attending the wedding, and we will have to go into debt to pay for it. Is this fair?
When we were married, we had a simple wedding. We prepared everything ourselves because it was all we could afford. Should we be expected to fork over money we don't have to feed people we don't know just because the bride's family can afford to throw a large, formal wedding?
- Stepmom in Canada
DEAR STEPMOM: No, you should not, and you should let the bride's family know it ASAP. Although, traditionally, a rehearsal dinner is hosted by the parents of the groom, today it can be hosted by just about anyone who is willing.
And while the guest list normally includes all attendants and their spouses or partners, close relatives and special guests such as the clergyperson and spouse, you are not obligated to include out-of-town guests. Out-of-town guests should be given a list of local restaurants and should not expect to be entertained beyond the wedding and the reception.
DEAR ABBY: I had a working relationship with a couple, "Ed" and "Millie," for many years. I considered them personal friends as well. I have since left the company and moved about 80 miles away.
While I have enjoyed staying in touch with them, their phone calls to me have been overwhelming. They sometimes call at inappropriate times - day and night. Ignoring them or not returning calls didn't work. Ed sent me texts, and I finally responded with "Please don't call me anymore," but his calls continue.
I changed my phone number, but now I'm starting to get calls where I work, and they have even called my daughter's phone. I know Ed is retired now and has some health issues, but I don't know why I'm the one he calls when he's bored and wants someone to talk to.
I have reached the point where I don't think it is possible to continue this friendship if it's going to involve multiple phone calls each day and 20 messages in my mailbox during the week. How do I get these nice people to give me some space?
- Smothered in Carrollton, Ga.
DEAR SMOTHERED: How sad. Multiple daily phone calls and 20 email messages a week after you have asked the person not to contact you isn't normal behavior. It's harassment. In light of your long friendship with this couple, and the fact that Ed's behavior is escalating, call his wife. Explain that you are concerned about her husband's behavior and urge her to have him evaluated by his doctor.
TO MY ASIAN READERS: The Lunar New Year begins today. It's the Year of the Snake. According to Asian culture, individuals born in the year of the snake are goal-oriented and hate failure. They are excellent mediators - intelligent, refined, clever in business and good providers because they value material wealth. A healthy, happy and prosperous New Year to you all. (Hiss, hiss, hooray!)
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.