DEAR ABBY: My 25-year-old son, "Jay," would like to come home for Christmas. I'm paying, so I made his reservation yesterday. Late last night, he told my husband he needs to go back two days early because of work. This change will cost around $150 more than the $215 I'm already paying.

Although my son earns a six-figure salary, he is unable to pay his student/parent loan on time each month. When he's late, I get harassing emails and phone calls. The loan is in my name because Jay blew all the $60,000 he got from a settlement, and he begged me to do this for him so he could graduate.

My husband and I are retired, but we both work part-time. Jay AND his sister are reluctant to pay for their tickets when they want to see us. They each live an hour plane ride away. They always seem to have enough money to travel and do what they want to do. I am so upset, I'd like to cancel the holidays because I feel we are being taken advantage of. What do you think? -- NAUGHTY, NOT NICE

DEAR N.N.N.: I think that rather than cancel the holidays, you and your husband should use the visit to inform your 25-year-old son that it's time to grow up and pay his bills. Because he now has a six-figure income -- thanks to your generosity -- he should assume responsibility for his student loan debt and pay it on time. And if he doesn't, consider reviewing your estate plan and subtracting what he owes you.

DEAR ABBY: I'm 37. When I was 32, after having been together for 15 years and married for seven, my wife died suddenly. I grieved, but have finally been able to start thinking about my future.

I recently started dating -- well, one date, to be exact -- and when I mentioned that I was a widower, I immediately saw her interest turn to pure sympathy. I tried to elaborate on it, stating that it had been some time ago and that I'm ready to start the next phase of my life. (I want a family.)

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Friends have advised me, "Do NOT tell women you're a widower until you have been dating for some time," but I find it nearly impossible to talk about my past without mentioning my late wife. She was a major part of my life for almost half of it -- and for all of my adult life, including the last five years she hasn't been here. Is it possible to tell someone that you are a widower and not let her sympathy overwhelm any other emotion? -- YOUNG-ISH WIDOWER IN COLORADO

DEAR WIDOWER: An expression of sympathy is the appropriate reaction when you tell someone a loved one died. What you must avoid is allowing your late wife to be the MAIN topic of conversation, and make an effort to talk about your date's interests, mutual interests and plans for the future.

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