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by Abigail Van Buren

Parents Object to Being Shut Out by Surgery Bound Daughter

DEAR ABBY: A year ago I received such a thoughtful Christmas gift from my daughter-in-law that I can't resist telling you about it. First, she sent a card instructing me to open my gifts according to the month written on the package -- so the giving would continue all year long.

For January, she gave me a calendar. For February, a heart-shaped pin; for March, a leprechaun figurine; for April, a bag of candy Easter eggs. A kitchen utensil holder with "Mom" on it was her gift for May; for June she gave me sunglasses; Fourth of July candles were the July surprise; my birthday gift in August was a candy dish. September is Grandparents' Month, so she gave me a grandmother plaque.

Her October gift was a small jack-o'-lantern to hang up in my window. November was a decorative wall hanging, trimmed with nuts and berries. And in December, there were two housedresses.

Abby, I loved the series of gifts. They reflected affection, ingenuity and generosity -- qualities my daughter-in-law has in abundance. Sign me ... A VERY HAPPY MOTHER-IN-LAW

DEAR MOTHER-IN-LAW: It's clear from your letter that you and your daughter-in-law have a special relationship, and it's a credit to both of you. "Gifts that keep on giving" -- meaning gifts that continue throughout the year -- are an excellent idea. That's why magazine subscriptions, boxes of fruit and monthly arrangements of flowers are so popular. However, your daughter-in-law's gift was tailored just for you -- a very clever concept.