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Time to say Happy New Year (even though it’s actually Dec. 22 as I write this). The hectic holidays are almost over and we can all get back to something resembling normalcy. The new year is 2012 and one big celebration is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. The festivities will begin in February on Dickens’ birthday.

‘Tis the season for ice skating shows and Forest Park was well represented. Angelina Giuliano, the long-legged beauty with the Mona Lisa face, performed at the Niles Rink while her father, Ed Giuliano, beamed with pride. Eddie is a product of our Forest Park schools. Meanwhile over at the rink in Darien, 10-year-old Sarah Xia, born here but who moved at a very young age, soloed to an applauding crowd. Sara’s sister, Julie Xia, attended Garfield for a few years and some of her former classmates will remember her.

A Christmas story to warm your heart, possibly: A dear old friend of mine, a widow for many years, let’s call her Emma, was reaching the end of her finances. Her 22-year-old rusty Buick was about to collapse like the One Hoss Shay. Her late husband’s sister, a frugal Scandinavian – as Emma herself had always been – died at the age of 99. This sister-in-law was Emma’s last earthly connection to the husband she had cherished for many years. Well, the deceased sister’s executor appeared at Emma’s door recently and informed her that she had inherited a bit of money. The executor took Emma out car hunting and the ladies returned with a top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz! Emma will also receive a small monthly stipend for the rest of her life.

Thanks for taking your precious time to read this column. I apologize for the many errors and misspellings you have endured, and I promise to try to do better in the new year.

Now on to the birthdays: Happy birthday this last week in December and beginning of 2012 to Daniel Gerger, Laura Duwell, Vince Cirrintano, Norm Hopp, Thalia Becker, Monica Saleeb, Carol Garling, Jay Milano, Bob Dwyer, Joe Hein, Mel Noel, Ryan Patrick Mintz, Benjamin Hoffman, Chris Harris, Suzy Bjornson, Butch Jargstorf, Angela Spinelli, Tom Ahern, Hunter Treiber, Mark Rice, Brenda Riske Powers, Tom Cannon, Ryan Neff, Lauren Trage, Amy Hocheimer, Carol O’Donnell, Rich Gray, Caitlin Miller, Vic Bisluk, Jenni Jargstorf, Alice and Lara Mellin, Lou Moran, Ian Hoffman, Tom Kloess, Marie Skorda, Nick Horvath, Mario Tricoci, and Danielle Watson. Happy anniversary to Mark and Amy Vabornik, Barbara and Bob Sullivan, and Doug and Nancy Deuchler.

This is a special New Year’s Day, coming a bit late. It contains a Leap Second which doesn’t happen all the time. Because of the slightly erratic movement of the earth, and the need for precise time measurement, a leap second is added by international agreement, decided at the International Earth Rotation Service in Paris, France. It is added either on Jan. 1 or June 30 when it is needed.

Happy 2012 to all.