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Annie’s Mailbox: Cash OK for basic training student

Dear Annie: We recently were invited to a farewell party for the son of family friends who is entering basic training. It’s an outdoor affair at their home, and the e-mail invitation says it is a “time to wish him well and enjoy food, fellowship, and fun.”

Are we supposed to bring a gift? Since he can’t take anything with him, should we give him a check? Is there an appropriate price range? – Just Wondering

Dear Just: You are not obligated to bring a gift since your friend’s son is likely to be allowed only religious medallions and his wallet. You can ask his parents if there is anything he needs. You also could give him cash, phone cards or gift cards, although he may not be able to use them for a while. The amount is up to you. The most important gift is to be supportive and offer to write him often.

Dear Annie: I think you left out an important point in your response to “Sam in Pittsburgh,” whose sister wanted to use the family home for her vacation, but didn’t want to pay anything.

By selling the house to Sam, his sister gave up her claim. It is no longer “the family home.” It is Sam’s property. She traded her interest in the home for the estate settlement. Now she wants the money and the use of the home. I say Sam should explain this and then change the locks. – Same Situation in Salt Lake City

Dear Utah: It’s true that Sis may require a better understanding of what constitutes “her” home. However, if Sam doesn’t mind that she uses the place, neither do we, although she should not saddle him with her electric and water bills.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

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