DEAR ABBY: I have my granddaughters write thank-you notes to everyone who gave them presents for Christmas, birthdays and special events. They are 7 and 8 years old now. They have fun drawing pictures and mailing the letters, and the recipients enjoy receiving their notes. I would like to order your Letters Booklet because it contains samples of many other types of correspondence. — LINDA IN CENTERVILLE, TEXAS

DEAR LINDA: You are giving your granddaughters an early lesson in good manners, and your idea of having them draw pictures on their thank-you notes is clever. Because most children like to draw, some parents have their children do this before they learn to write.

As your granddaughters grow older, suggest that they keep a notebook handy when they open their gifts and jot down the first thing that comes to mind when they see the gift. Do they like the color? The style? Is it something they have been wanting? Write it down and use it for inspiration.

My booklet is helpful for people of all ages who put off writing because they don't know what to say. It can be ordered by sending your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (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. Inside you will find many samples that can be used as patterns from which to write your own. For anyone who has ever wondered where to begin when writing a note of thanks, congratulations, condolences, composing a love letter or the opposite — announcing a broken engagement or a decision to divorce — "How to Write Letters" is a handy guide for putting words down on paper.


DEAR ABBY: A close friend of mine recently confided that at a recent office happy hour, after most of her co-workers went home, she made out with a married manager. After that, they went to another bar, after which he eventually paid a $200 taxi ride for her to go to her parents' house where she was spending the weekend. Now they text after work hours (presumably while he is home with his wife and kids), and he has invited her out to lunch and drinks, which she has rebuffed.

I asked her what their goal was for this "relationship" — do they want an affair? Something more? She says they are just friends, and she's mad at me for even questioning it. She just broke up with her longtime boyfriend, and I don't want her to get hurt by getting involved with this man from her office. Any advice? — WORRIED FRIEND IN NEW YORK

DEAR WORRIED FRIEND: You asked your friend an intelligent question. Now it's time to step back out of the line of fire. This will not end well, and somebody is going to be unhappy as this unfolds. Do not let it be you.


DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are expecting. We were both raised Catholic, but neither of us feels any affinity for the church or its teachings anymore. We had a Catholic wedding more for others (primarily family) than for ourselves.

The question is, do we have our baby baptized? Neither of us really wants to, but we're afraid of the reaction from our families. We would just go along with it, but if we do, it means getting involved with a religious group we care little for, and worse, lying about it. What do we do? — DO WE OR DON'T WE

DEAR DO WE OR DON'T WE: You and your wife are both adults. How you choose to raise your child should not be dictated by anyone but yourselves. If you choose not to baptize your offspring in the Catholic religion, then "to thine own selves be true." If your child later decides to adopt a Christian religion, he or she can be baptized then.


DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who lived in my home most of the time for about six years. During that period, she rented out rooms in her house. She paid her bills, and I paid mine, but I covered her living off me. At the time, it didn't bother me much because I could afford it, although I would have preferred to save that money.

I have since sold that house and bought my dream retirement home in another state. Now, I stay with her, and her renters have moved out. It's unpleasant sometimes because when she gets drunk she accuses me of using her. (It's true, I am.) Is it OK to use her by staying in her home without really liking her much? I feel it's my turn to leech, and I'd like to stick it out until I retire in about a year. — WAITING TO MOVE

DEAR WAITING: It's OK with me as long as it's OK with you. But don't kid yourself. You're not living there rent-free. Tolerating an unpleasant drunk is the price you're paying, and only you can determine whether it's worth it.


DEAR ABBY: I'm originally from another country and have been living in the U.S. for about a decade. Is there a rule of etiquette for kids' play dates?

Quite often, I have invited my child's school friends or the neighbor children to my home for play dates, but their parents never return the courtesy. If my child wants to keep having play dates with those children, should I continue inviting them?

I sometimes feel I could be making the parents uncomfortable, but I feel my child's socialization is more important than what the other parents might think. Am I setting myself up for abuse from those other parents by sending the message that I don't mind always being the host? — CONFUSED MOTHER

DEAR CONFUSED: Kudos to you for helping your child to socialize and inviting the children into your home. However, not all parents feel as comfortable as you do about having children over, or are as able to do so. Whether or not you are being taken advantage of, I can't say. But perhaps it's better that you have the children in your home where you can observe and supervise what's going on than they be someplace where you can't.


DEAR ABBY: Ten months ago, I searched for my birth mother and made contact. We corresponded via letters. She was terminally ill and preferred to keep me a secret from her children. I understood her feelings and respected her wishes.

She passed away last month, and her husband sent a letter notifying me. My question is: How long should I wait before reaching out to my siblings? — REACHING OUT IN MAINE

DEAR REACHING OUT: Do so at any time you wish, but be prepared for them to be shocked and possibly disbelieving. It would have been better had your birth mother prepared them before her death, but since she didn't, I see no reason why you should remain a guilty secret.