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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have a different sort of pet peeve, but I hope you will let me air it. If you do, I'm sure it will generate a collective sigh of relief from a few million TV watchers -- and hopefully, a station manager or two might take notice.

The weather reports all start with the terrific computer-generated maps and diagrams presented by both local and national TV meteorologists. However, they insist on standing in front of their display and waving their arms madly around, which is distracting, infuriating, and adds zilch to the report.

A typical example: The weather reporter announces the temperature in Boston is 74 degrees, then he walks across the screen to point at the number on the map. Then the reporter shows how a front is moving from the Southwest, following the station manager's instructions:

"Crouch low, sweep arms around crazily and move to the center of the screen. Stand in front of the home city data. Smile proudly. Point out the local forecast because the map is now completely obscured."

Why can't the old rubber-tipped pointers used by our grade school geography teachers (who stood thoughtfully off to the side while lecturing) be retired from the chalk trays of America and put back into service? Unlike little children, TV weathercasters should be heard and not seen. -- RETIRED TEACHER IN MORRISVILLE, N.Y.

DEAR R.T.: I agree that at times some weather reporters get in the way of the viewing -- and your recycling idea has merit. Thanks for pointing it out. I'm printing your suggestion in the hope that those who need to see it will take it to heart. But I'm not holding my breath, and you shouldn't either.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Graham," and I were married for 11 years. From the beginning, the relationship with his parents was rocky. During the last five years of our marriage, we hardly spoke to Graham's family at all -- his preference.

Graham died last year, and ever since the funeral his parents have wanted to have a close relationship with me. I am having a hard time with it, since we had no relationship before my husband died. I have children, and I think his parents believe that they need to be part of their grandchildren's lives, but what are my obligations toward them? -- FRUSTRATED AND ALONE IN CLOVIS, N.M.

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your children are the only link to their son that Graham's parents have. I'm sure they regret their estrangement from your family more than words can say. Please respect that you are united in grief over the untimely death of your husband. Treat his parents kindly, encourage their participation in their grandchildren's lives, and try to find it in your heart to forgive them. If that's possible, you will all be the richer for it.

DEAR ABBY: Would you please settle a disagreement I'm having with my mother-in-law? We can't agree on the definition of New Year's Eve. If the date is Dec. 31, 2004, is it New Year's Eve 2004 or 2005? -- IN A QUANDARY IN WEST PALM BEACH

DEAR IN A QUANDARY: The Reader's Digest Oxford Complete Wordfinder defines "eve" as: "1. the evening or day before a church festival or any date or event (Christmas Eve; the eve of the funeral); 2. the time before anything (the eve of the election)."

Therefore, Dec. 31, 2004, is New Year's Eve 2004. New Year's Eve 2005 will be Dec. 31 of next year.

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