Dear Ann: Now that the real millennium is here, I have made some New Year's resolutions that I hope you will share with your readers:
1. I will remember to say something kind to the cashier who is harried and tired, because it only takes a minute to bring a smile to the face of someone who is working hard.
2. I will stop for a moment to get items from the top shelf for the woman who is in a wheelchair or the older man with a cane.
3. I will pause in the aisle at the grocery store, and wait until the elderly lady moves her cart past mine. I will do it with a smile on my face, and will use the extra time to chat with her and make a new friend.
4. I will continue to call my mother to ask how her day is going and tell her about mine not because she needs to know, but because it is important to tell her how much I love her while I still can.
5. I will e-mail my friend who is feeling down to remind her what a talented, special person she is, and that this low point in her life is merely a stop on the way to bigger and better things.
6. I will tell my husband how much I love and appreciate him for being a kind person, a good father and a wonderful husband not because he doesn't know these things, but because it is important that he hear it from my lips.
7. I will tell my daughter I love her and think she's a cool kid when I drop her off at school. When she tells me, "I know, Mom, you tell me all the time," I will smile because it means I am doing my job right. Kay C. in the Midwest
Dear Kay C.: What a wonderful list and a terrific way to start off the new year. Instead of making resolutions to shed weight or stop smoking, you have created ways to show more compassion and strengthen your relationships with family and friends. I hope my readers will take these resolutions to heart and add a few of their own.
Dear Ann: I agree with you that the "tradition" of smashing cake into your partner's face at your wedding is gross. My bride and I solved this problem in advance by having a "designated receiver" a friend who was willing to have cake smashed in his face on our behalf.
The guests loved it, and the idea was such a big hit that this same fellow was called on a few weeks later to save another bridal couple's dignity at their wedding. Now that's what I call a real friend. S.D. in D.C.
Dear S.D.: Your amusing solution avoids the appearance of hostility between the bride and groom, not to mention it saves the bride's dress and make-up. However, I still don't understand why smashing a piece of wedding cake in someone's face has to be part of anyone's wedding ceremony. It's boorish and adolescent.
Dear Ann: I am a 16-year-old girl, and about to get my driver's license. I am very excited, and would love to have my own car. My mother is totally opposed to the idea. She says I will have to use her car to get around, but she is really busy and practically lives in her car. I know I will rarely get to drive it.
I'm not asking for a fancy Cadillac, Ann. My parents are well-off financially, and could easily afford to buy me a used car. I've been waiting for 16 years! Don't you think I deserve one? Discouraged in Raleigh, N.C.
Dear Raleigh: Your parents do not owe you a car. If your grades are excellent, and you offer to contribute toward the cost, perhaps they will reconsider.