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Dear Abby: I’m a 17-year-old girl, and all my life I have had trouble accepting gifts, even inexpensive ones. I do believe it’s the thought that counts, but I have trouble expressing gratitude.

An example: My brother was disappointed by my reaction when he got me soap shaped like a rock last Christmas. My smile was forced. I feel anxious when I get presents, no matter what they are.

I have started seeing someone, and I was planning to save up for a really nice present for him. But when he said he wanted to do the same, I felt uncomfortable. What’s a great line I can use to express my gratitude — “I’m happy that you thought of me”?

Searching For Words

Out West

Dear Searching For Words: Always say thank you. After that, you might express that the item is “beautiful” or that you like the style or the color. In a case like your brother’s gift, you could have said, “Wow! This gift rocks!”

Dear Abby: I am 29, independent, single and have a steady job. I’m planning on going back to school to become a certified plumbing technician.

Here’s the catch: I’m a woman, and because I’m female, some people make comments like, “You don’t want to do that. It’s working with other people’s ----!” Yes, this is really because I’m female.

I have tried explaining that plumbing doesn’t just involve unclogging toilets and that I feel it’s a good choice for me, but I still get these stupid comments. One woman in particular I work with won’t stop trying to talk me out of it. I think it’s my choice and she’s being rude. Is there a polite way to convince her without being rude?

Ms. Plumber in

Lancaster, Penn.

Dear Ms. Plumber: Try this: “Plumbers make good money. Right now, I’m making ‘this’ much, but once I complete the course I’ll be earning ‘this’ ” If that doesn’t convince her, nothing will.

Dear Abby: I found out I have breast cancer again, except this time I’m dying. I don’t know when. I’ve told family and friends about it, but not about the fact that it will be terminal. How can I get some of them to come and visit me while I’m still feeling good? I have asked, but only about three have come.

I’m lonely, Abby. I don’t drive, so it’s difficult. What can I do?

Living In The

Present in Maine

Dear Living: I’m sorry about your prognosis. While you can still enjoy their company, you should level with the people you care about and tell them all the truth. That way, fewer of them will procrastinate, and you can have the emotional support you need during this difficult time.

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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