Dear Abby:

My sister informed me that her daughter was pregnant and was being married at the courthouse. They live in Kansas. I live in Florida.

The day after the ceremony, my sister e-mailed me, expressing anger that I did not acknowledge her daughter's "special day." Keep in mind that I have never known her kids, as we have lived so far apart all of their lives. Her other daughters have called me every name they can come up with, trying to make me feel bad for "forgetting" about the event. I don't feel I was obligated to do anything, especially when my sister announced it would be "parents only" at the ceremony.

Who's out of line here, in your opinion?

Distant Aunt in Titusville, Fla.

Since you weren't invited to the wedding, you had no obligation to send a gift. It would have been nice if you had marked the occasion with something -- a token gift. However, since you are now being "called every name they can come up with," I wouldn't blame you for going from distant aunt to an even more distant one.

Dear Abby:

I am a 65-year-old grandmother who had a colostomy a little over a year ago. It wasn't because of cancer or a life-threatening illness. It was because of lack of muscle control from having children.

I care for my grandchildren two or three times a week, a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl. How do I explain this to a 4-year-old? I don't want to scare her. From the time she was able to walk she came into the bathroom with me, and now she's curious about why she can't anymore. Is there a way you can explain this to a child? Thanks for any advice you can give.

Grandma in Bristol, Conn.

That you had a colostomy because of incontinence from childbirth is too much information for a child your granddaughter's age. Simply tell her that she's not a baby anymore and you would prefer privacy in the bathroom. Most adults do, and it should not require a detailed explanation.

However, if your granddaughter should enter the bathroom unexpectedly and ask specific questions about what she has seen, a brief explanation that you are all right and that you just go to the bathroom a little differently than she does should suffice. As she gets older, appropriate information can be provided on a "need-to-know" basis.

Dear Abby:

My sister and I are having a debate. I say you do not need to tip hairdressers if they rent their station and take 100 percent of the fees they charge. I say that tipping is only for people on commission. She disagrees.

I want to send my new hairdresser a tip if I'm wrong.

"Curly" in Chesterfield, Mo.

When in doubt, the wisest policy is to ask if tips are accepted. In many beauty salons, tips are welcomed even by the owner. For color, cuts and permanents, the usual amount is 15 to 20 percent. For a simple wash-and-set or blow-dry, it's 15 percent. In addition, regular customers give their hairdressers -- and manicurists -- gifts at Christmas. So haul out your wallet; your sister is right.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate