Our winter travelers are back home and back at work. David and Renee Collins celebrated the Christmas vacation by going on a Caribbean cruise. The ship took them to St. Thomas, St. Martin, a few of the Bahamas and then back to land. They spent New Year’s with David’s extended family at the family lake home in Michigan. When they’re not cruising, Renee teaches at Lincoln Park Academy in Chicago and David teaches in Elmhurst at Sandburg Middle School. Back to the chalkboard!

Ramya Bavikatte and Karl went the other direction and spent their vacation time skiing in Winter Park, Colorado.

Everyone extends deep sympathy to Sue Giblin and her family on the death of their husband and father, Jim Giblin last week. Happy Christmas memories become sad as we get older ” a sadness for the past and those who have gone. Jim had a lot of friends, he’ll be missed.

The family of Hella Kukuk also suffered a loss this Christmastime. Hella was a long time singer with the Damenchor and she, too, will be very much missed. The funeral was postponed for several days because of her many relatives who wanted to come from Germany and Switzerland.

Do you know anyone who came from the Good Old South Side of Chicago? Notably Saint Killian’s parish? If you do tell them to contact the church at 87th and May Streets, (773)651-4000. A celebration in honor of the church’s 100th anniversary is being planned for May 21st. Names are needed for the book they are compiling.

The special concert of the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest is this Sunday, January 15, 4 p.m. at OPRF High School at Scoville & Lake (free parking in the school’s garage). This concert is dedicated to local kids and features music from Harry Potter and my Favorite, the infamous Bottle Band conceived and conducted by Forest Park’s pride and joy, Paul Phillips. Kids are free, adults $10. If you’ve never heard the bottle band you really have to go hear them. If you have heard them, you don’t need coaxing. Also on the program are the winners of this year’s concerto competition – Masha Popova and Benjamin Lash . Everything in this concert has been planned to appeal to kids and to brighten up this dark January afternoon.

Augie and Tracy Aleksy are still counting books and straightening the place up. So don’t plan on any special programs for a few days. Give the pair a rest, for heaven’s sake!

Some of the birthdays this week are Victoria Burdette on January 11; on the 12th happy birthday to Nancy Blum, seven-year-old Ryan Farrell ,and Ellen Krupa ; on January 13 happy birthday to Jaqui Gillian, John Gillian, Sue Bracker, Erika Goodman and Sean Goodman, on the 14th Rajiv Hirandandi, Mary Virginia Sedlack and Michael Bjorn son ; on January 15 a happy birthday wish goes to five year old Holly Fjeldstad;January 16 is happy birthday time for Eunice Blazek, Tom Dazek, Lauren Pardun, Bob Kurash, Judy Baar Topinka, and Justice Mary Ann McMorrow; on the 17th, Joan Steinbach, Janet Fabrini, Margaret Flanagan, Daniel Mondragon and Marge Zwadlo; January 18 and happy birthday to Judy Daniels, Dan Olson, Kirk Oliver and five-year-old Caitlin Trage;

Thank you for your time. Take good care of yourself. Chop a bun.

Jackie is a former Chicago and Elmwood Park schoolteacher with an undying love for music, friendly pets and a host of life's other treasures too numerous to list. She was born on the far southwest side...