Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I am a 16-year-old guy in my sophomore year of high school. I am known as a friendly, outgoing guy who gets along with girls. My problem is, I used to be one of the biggest jerks who ever was. I was involved in fighting and other things I won't go into. But I turned my life around.

I was going out with an amazing girl, "Samantha." She always kept me in line, but was sweet about it. Recently, because I was ashamed of my past, I lied to her. She found out about it and, needless to say, she was very hurt. When I saw how hurt she was, I was sick to my stomach knowing how much pain I had caused such a trusting girl.

I want to make things right, but I don't know where to start. I have talked to her since then, but things aren't the same. Please help.

— LOVESICK IN KENNEWICK, WASH.

DEAR LOVESICK: Apologize again to Samantha for not being completely truthful with her, and explain that you lied because you were ashamed about your past behavior and only wanted someone as special as she is to see you in a good light. Promise never to do it again.

If she likes you as much as you like her, she'll give you another chance. But remember, from here on you will have to be honest because if she catches you in another lie, she won't believe another word that comes out of your mouth. Enough said?

DEAR ABBY: I am blessed with many wonderful friends. We exchange small gifts on birthdays and at Christmas. As much as I appreciate the gifts, I am running out of room in my closets because I have too much stuff. Sometimes the gifts are not to my taste or they don't fit in with my decor.

How long should I keep an item before I donate it to a thrift shop? Is it ungracious to give it away? Am I obligated to display or use something I don't like?

I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I have tried suggesting that at our ages (50s and 60s) we should cut out the gift-giving, donate the money to charity and celebrate by going out to lunch on our birthdays. It didn't go over very well. They all enjoy the exchange of presents. I am happy to give one, but I really don't need anything more. Thanks for your help.

— TOO BLESSED IN SANTA ANA, CALIF.

DEAR TOO BLESSED: It's not ungracious to give away something you can't use — in fact, the practice is so common there is a name for it. It's called "regifting." It won't cause hurt feelings as long as you are careful not to give an item back to the person who give it to you.

Donating something to a thrift shop is also a practical way to get rid of it, and you can do it anytime you wish. One person's "castoff" can be another's treasure. Everybody wins and a worthwhile charity makes money.

Because you are "thinged out" and prefer divesting to accumulating, I recommend you stop "suggesting" and have a frank talk with your friends. Tell them you have everything you need, that their friendship — which you already have — is the most precious gift they could ever give you, and on birthdays from now on you'd much prefer meeting for your celebratory lunch, but please to donate whatever they'd spend on your gift to charity. After that, the ball's in their court.

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.