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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are writing about our only daughter, "Jessica," who has been married to "Ron" for three years. Jessica recently expressed displeasure (initiated by Ron) about how close we are with Ron's parents. They feel our friendship is somehow unusual or threatening. The in-laws are aware of it and don't intend to change their relationship with us.

From the time that Jessica began dating Ron, my husband and I formed a lovely and close bond with these people. We include each other at family and holiday gatherings. We're baffled, hurt and resent being told to back off from a relationship we cherish. We can't see the logic behind it, and it has put a strain on our relationship with our daughter and son-in-law. What do you think about this, Abby? -- BAFFLED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR BAFFLED: Ron may not have as close a relationship with his parents as you do with your daughter. Perhaps they would like to see less of the in-laws. By including them at every family and holiday gathering, you may be forcing more contact than Ron and Jessica would like. So my advice is -- at least for a while -- that you continue to socialize with these people as friends but curtail some of those family activities. See "the kids" alone sometimes, and you may learn the reason they feel the way they do.

DEAR ABBY: One of my friends asks to borrow my discount card (that I pay for) every time we go shopping together. She recently asked me to let her know the next time I plan to go to a particular membership store, so she can tag along and get my discount.

Until now, I have always agreed, but it's beginning to bother me. Am I wrong to feel this way? Am I being selfish? If not, is there a tactful way to let her know how I feel? -- WISE SHOPPER, JACKSONVILLE, FLA.

DEAR WISE SHOPPER: Not knowing your friend, it's hard to determine whether she's a mooch or someone who needs a break. Because you feel your generosity is being taken advantage of, a way to handle it would be to tell her that you sometimes decide to shop at the last minute and therefore can't always include her. Another would be to "forget" to mention you're going. Of course there is a third way, and that would be to tell her how you feel -- but it's risky because while true, it's not tactful.

DEAR ABBY: I have enjoyed the "pennies from heaven" stories you print from time to time. For a while I have wanted to write and tell you my story.

A few days after my mother passed away, my husband and I went to dinner at a local restaurant. We usually pay for our dinners with a credit card, but this time we decided to use cash. Our change was a few dollars and a penny.

For some reason, I decided to check the date on the penny. It was dated 1922, the year of my mother's birth. I am in my 50s and had never found such an old penny before. The 1922 penny is now among other treasures that my mother left me.

I don't believe in coincidences, Abby. I really do believe Mother had something to do with the penny we received. I consider it my "penny from heaven." -- SEATTLE READER

DEAR READER: A penny as proof of a mother's love? I wouldn't be surprised.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)