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For about 70 years I have not believed in Santa Claus. But earlier this week, I actually met the real Santa in Tarpon Springs, Fla.

There was the big guy with his wife, Christmas Carol Claus, walking along the boardwalk dressed in lightweight red summer attire. When I approached them he handed me his card, which read “You met the real Santa Claus today.”

Why in Florida? He probably needs to rest up in a warm place after his busy season. He told us he uses a GPS to find his way around the world. When I stupidly asked him where he really lives he looked shocked. Everyone knows where Santa lives … at the North Pole. You can e-mail the jolly couple at Mr.Mrs.SantaClaus@hotmail.com. Or, you can reach them on their cell phone at (727) 207-0111. They and their helpers are available for parties, lectures on the history of Christmas and Santa, and other related topics.

Also in Tarpon Springs were some wonderful Greek bakeries, outdoor restaurants, and dogs, dogs, dogs. There seem to be more dogs per square inch in Florida than anywhere else. Dogs are allowed to accompany their people into the restaurants.

Besides Tarpon Springs and Santa, we drove around the headquarters of Scientology in Clearwater. Lots of well-groomed, well-attired young people. They own some very large, expensive looking buildings as well. But nobody seems to know anything about the religion.

Floridians are obsessed with the temperature up here in Chicago, and never stop talking about it and us in the cold. They are like converts to a new religion. Why do you live up there? How can you stand it? Why don’t you move down here? When I told someone my dog loves the cold, he said “buy him a hat with a fan.” Those people never stop talking about our cold, and this year it has been tough to defend.

Kay Hussey took a nasty spill in her home recently and broke her neck, but don’t fear, I understand she’s OK, relatively speaking.

Congratulations and good luck to our new dog hotel, The Spot, owned by Peggy Bernar of Berwyn.

Two Fish is sponsoring some field trips, I see. One is on Jan. 31 to see a large collection of colored glass. You can book a private party for making a stained glass project, too.

Team Blonde will again give lessons in jewelry making. Jayne Ertel will teach wearable art, necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Bring your own beads. Jayne will give you some outstanding ideas of what to do with them. There is so much happening on Madison.

My apologies to Walther Academy at St. John for incorrectly identifying the school a few weeks ago.

On to the birthdays this week. On Jan. 22, Olivia Schauer will be 2 years old! On the 24th, Kathy Doss has a birthday; on the 25th, Connor Bafetti, Ken Oliver, Natalie Frank, Kelly Rosen, Esther Huebner and Catherine Marquart Nickels all have a birthday; on Jan. 27, happy birthday to Tracey Doss, Orion Javier and Leela Itzel, and on the 28th, Marlene Quandt, Matthew Walsh and Sharon Andrews all get a happy birthday wish. Belated happy birthday to Pastor Audree Catalano, who celebrated on Jan. 21.