DEAR READERS: Because today is Christmas and a celebration of faith for so many, I am devoting today's column to "Pennies From Heaven," a subject my readers have taken to heart.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

DEAR ABBY: I have twin sisters who are a few years younger than I. Our mom usually baked them a double-heart birthday cake, since they were born the day after Valentine's Day.

Mom passed away suddenly in 1993. There was no warning. Of course, the three of us were devastated. It took a long time to get over the shock and pain.

This year we got together on the twins' 55th birthday. After opening the gifts that I got them, my sister Marilyn tried on the black fleece jacket. She put her hands in the pockets to model it and felt something. Removing her hands from the pockets she asked, "Sue, did you put these in here?" In each hand she held a penny, dated 1993!

That's our "pennies from heaven" story -- strange, but true. We feel these pennies were from Mom, letting us know that she was with us on her twin daughters' birthday. -- SUE REICH, KANSAS CITY, KAN.

DEAR SUE: Perhaps your mother was putting in her 2 cents' worth on that happy occasion.

DEAR ABBY: Back in 1936 or 1937, I was living at home and driving a junky old car. One day I casually mentioned to my mother that I needed to give the steering wheel a good cleaning.

She went out and cleaned it, and as a joke I paid her a penny for it.

After she passed away and went to heaven, we discovered that she had wrapped the penny in a little piece of paper upon which she had scribbled, "The penny Carl gave me for washing the steering wheel of his car. Signed, Minnie Blaich." (I'm enclosing a photocopy.)

I had the nicest parents, and have a wife who is just as nice. We were married on my birthday, Oct. 8, 1939. We now we have been married for 62 years.

I hope you enjoyed my penny story. -- CARL BLAICH, ZEPHYRHILLS, FLA.

P.S. I'm still kickin' -- but I'm not making much dust.

DEAR CARL: Your penny story touched my heart. Obviously, your dear mother treasured the memory of that event, which is why the penny meant so much to her. I'll bet she wouldn't have parted with that penny for any amount of money.

DEAR ABBY: When my daughter was 10 years old (she's 14 now), we sent cupcakes to school on her birthday. Later that evening, I asked her how school went that day. "Oh, Mom," she said, "it was the best day I ever had at school." I smiled, and she continued: "Except for the shooting." Terror struck at my heart and my smile froze into fear.

Apparently, some idiot across the street from her school had shot his gun into the air while the kids were playing in the school yard. The playground supervisor immediately ordered the children to drop to the ground, and the police were called.

My little girl went on with her day: "But I got to pick out a prize from the 'good behavior box' -- and this is for you." She handed me a bookmark about guardian angels, attached to which was a penny with an angel cut into its center. It is priceless to me. To this day, I carry it on my key chain and say a little prayer for her safety when I'm reminded of its meaning. -- SHARON IN MINNEAPOLIS

DEAR SHARON: If anyone ever says, "A penny for your thoughts," share your story with him or her. It's an important reminder of how precious life is.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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