DEAR ABBY: I'm planning my wedding and need to know how to handle a touchy problem. My mother has selected a beautiful royal blue street-length dress.

My fiance's mother says she is wearing either a floor-length dress or a pantsuit! (She's had polio and she wears leg braces.)I asked her if, just for that one day, could she please make an exception and wear a street-length dress like my mother is wearing, and she said, "Sorry, I'd rather not." I even offered to rent a wheelchair, so she could wear a nice dress and not use the leg braces, and she still refused.

Abby, it is just one day in her life - surely she could bend a little. The pictures will be important to us for a long time, and the impression the wedding party gives is important to me. My mother is very upset.

Please let me know what you think, as my future mother-in-law values your opinion highly. - TORONTO BRIDE

DEAR BRIDE: You and your mother should "bend a little" and rearrange your priorities if you want your wedding to be a stress-free, convivial occasion. Apologize to your fiance's mother for having hassled her to wear a street-length dress instead of a floor-length dress or a pantsuit to cover her leg braces. Your wedding pictures will be no less cherished if she wears whatever she feels comfortable in. Trust me.

DEAR ABBY: I don't know a soul in the Saudi desert, but I wanted to help the military a bit with morale. I made a "cookie coupon" stating it was good for one box of homemade chocolate chip cookies; please fill in name and address and return to (my address). I mailed it to Any Service member to an APO in New York. So far, I've had one response from a Marine. (I sent out six coupons.)

Abby, I'd like to share a good way to package cookies to go overseas.

1. Wipe the inside of a sturdy box with a damp sponge sprinkled with vanilla.

2. Line the bottom of the box with a layer of unsalted popcorn.

3. A layer of waxed paper.

4. A layer of cookies.

5. More waxed paper, popcorn, cookies, etc., until the box is filled.

This is the way my mom sent cookies overseas during WWII. - SARAH IN WHITTIER, CALIF.

DEAR SARAH: Thanks for the helpful tips. Everybody loves cookies, and our men and women serving far from home in all corners of the world will eat them up. Readers, head for your kitchens!

DEAR ABBY: What do you think of a man who has been married for 16 years and goes with a married woman for nine years and then drops her and goes with a girl for five years? Then, when his wife dies, he goes with another married woman for seven years? - CURIOUS

DEAR CURIOUS: I think he must be a very old man by now.

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