Dear Readers: Today’s Sound Off is from a reader who believes we’ve lost the meaning of the holidays.

“Dear Heloise: This is the month of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, three important holidays for most of us. Sadly, we’ve gotten caught up in the lights, the stores crammed with all sorts of items, the wrapping and the gifts. But the holidays are not about these things. As a nation, we’ve lost the importance of these holidays and have given way to the commercialization and the ostentation of outdoing neighbors.

“For Christmas this year, my family agreed that we would give no more than two gifts to people. Not necessarily expensive, but something we know the other person will like or need. Instead of buying a bunch of junk, we’ve made up large Christmas baskets out of laundry baskets for needy families with canned goods, soaps, shampoos, gift certificates and blankets. To us, Christmas is more about giving than receiving.”

Claudia L., Perry Hills, Ohio

Dear Readers: Here are some other uses for a pizza cutter. You can cut:

● brownies

● waffles or pancakes

● boiled potatoes

● hard-boiled eggs

● sandwiches

Dear Heloise: How can I remove stubborn spaghetti sauce stains on my plastic food storage containers?

Faye H., Asheboro, N.C.

Faye H.: Try mixing together equal parts baking soda and chlorine bleach. Put the mixture on the stain and set aside for about 15 to 20 minutes. Wash well and rinse thoroughly. This should do the trick! I have many other stain-removing hints using baking soda in my pamphlet Baking Soda Hints and Recipes. To get a copy, send $5, along with a long, stamped (71 cents), self-addressed envelope, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. You also can order it online at Keeping your home clean and odor-free using baking soda is as easy as sprinkling some on a damp sponge and using as you would scouring powder. In fact, you may never have to buy scouring powder again.

Dear Heloise: Just a word to the wise: Before you spend a dime on a wedding gown that may be difficult (if not impossible) to clean, read the label carefully. I didn't. I had my gown dry-cleaned and preserved in a special garment bag. When my daughter wanted to see if it fit her for her wedding, I found that the dress had yellowed, the seed pearls were dull and peeling, and the fabric had lost its soft sheen. That was when I read the label, which specifically said that all seed pearls and appliqué must be removed before dry-cleaning, and to not store in plastic bags. So now, 22 years after my wedding, I have a $7,000 rag that my daughter cannot wear!

Chloe N., Richmond

Chloe N.: Yes, it’s so very important to read dress labels carefully, especially on garments that we’d like to preserve for future generations.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

2018, King Features Syndicate