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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My wife prefers that I write the letters to our children and relatives. Although she writes a delightful letter, she lacks confidence in her ability to punctuate and spell correctly. I enjoy writing, so I don't mind performing this task for both of us.

For many years I closed the letter, "With love," followed by "Mom and Dad" or both our first names. Last year I decided this was not correct. Although my wife occasionally suggests thoughts that I include, I am the one who generates most of the thoughts and takes the time to write them. Therefore, I started closing my letters, "With love from both of us," followed by "Dad" or my name. This angers my wife. She insists that I sign "Mom and Dad" or both our first names. I insist that she is welcome to add a postscript to my letter and sign it or write her own letters.

My wife wants the letter to be from both of us, but I feel I should sign my letters with my name because they contain my thoughts. Am I being hardheaded? -- THE LONE WRITER, RICHLAND, WASH.

DEAR LONE WRITER: Yes. I empathize with you for wanting recognition for the work of art you have created, but it's a little late to begin asserting your individuality. I'm sure your children and relatives know who is really putting the words on the paper, so for the sake of harmony in the household, continue to sign your letters, "With love, from Mom and Dad."

In almost every marriage, the spouse with the stronger skills will assume responsibility for various chores -- the gardening, balancing the checkbook, wardrobe coordination, etc. That's what makes a partnership successful.

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to the letter that appeared in your column just before Thanksgiving from "Grieving Mom in Texas."

It is a tragedy that this family lost their firstborn in a drunk-driving crash. Drunk driving is not an accident. No one forces intoxicated drivers to get behind the wheel. They make that choice of their own free will.

I personally have lost two people who were very close to me. The first was my best friend from childhood. Eight months after that, his mother was struck and killed instantly by another drunk driver. Approximately 10 years later, I was struck and almost killed by a drunk driver.

Drunk driving is the most frequently committed violent crime in America, and the No. 1 killer of those between the ages of 6 and 33. I agree with your response that the holidays were rapidly approaching and your hope was that her letter would serve as a cautionary reminder about the dangers of driving under the influence. With a person dying every 32 minutes and being injured every 30 seconds, it's vital that people know how serious the drunk-driving problem is.

As a three-time victim, I must say that the best medicine for the pain all victims have endured is to get involved with Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Your readers can call MADD's national hotline -- 1-800-438-6233 -- to learn more about MADD and to get involved with their local chapter. The thousands of people in the organization support each other and are a tremendous help in our times of need. -- STEVE EMERICK, CHATSWORTH, CALIF.

DEAR STEVE: I haven't mentioned Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in my column for some time. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

I can think of no more effective support than MADD for someone who has lost a loved one through an alcohol-related tragedy. People with a shared experience can communicate with one another on a more profound level.

MADD also promotes education and awareness, and serves as advocate for victims and families throughout the courtroom process.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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