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DEAR ABBY: One day when my son was 8, he came home from school and announced, "Mommy, I know there's no Santa Claus!" The day I had dreaded was finally here.

I asked him why he believed that. He explained that his cousin, "Jason," had told him there was no such thing.

I looked him straight in the eye and, not knowing what else to say, said, "If you don't believe, you won't receive. NOW do you believe in Santa Claus?"

"Yes," he said.

The subject was not mentioned again until the next year, when I again asked him if he believed in Santa Claus. He piped up with, "Of course I believe in Santa Claus." We have repeated this scenario every year.

My son is now 22, and he still believes in Santa because you are never too old to believe in Santa Claus. -- PAM IN FLORIDA

DEAR PAM: Cousin Jason was a weasel, and I applaud your success in keeping a cherished tradition alive for your son. With an incentive like that, I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't also still believe in the Tooth Fairy.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to send a heartfelt thank-you to my guardian angel.

My boyfriend, "Geoff," invited me to join him for a weekend during a two-week business trip to California. We had a wonderful time.

Monday morning, I returned my rental car at the airport and checked my luggage. An hour before my plane was to depart, I heard myself paged over the intercom. I answered the call and heard Geoff's panicked voice. He had been unable to call my cell phone because the battery had run down. He had left the keys to his rental car in mine and had to get to work.

I ran back to the counter to book a later flight, but since I had already checked my luggage, it was impossible.

I had $1 in change in my pocket. I called the car rental company from a pay phone and they gave me the runaround. I began crying in frustration when a woman sitting nearby handed me her cell phone and said, "Here. Call whomever you need." I was speechless. I gratefully took her phone and called the car rental company back. They located Geoff's keys and agreed to deliver them.

When I handed the woman her phone, she said, "Now, call your boyfriend." I'll never forget her sympathy and generosity.

If she reads this, she'll know who she is. Thank you -- and God bless you for your kindness! -- GRATEFUL TO MY GUARDIAN ANGEL

DEAR GRATEFUL: At last! A positive story about someone with a cell phone. The woman who helped you was indeed an "angel." These days, many people prefer not to get involved when they see someone in a predicament. My hat is off to her.

DEAR ABBY: My son and his girlfriend have invited my wife and me to meet her parents for brunch at a restaurant in their home state 2 1/2 hours away.

My question: Who should pay the bill? The young couple, her parents -- or should the bill be split three ways? -- UNSURE IN UTAH

DEAR UNSURE: The people who do the inviting usually pick up the tab. When the check arrives, let it sit on the table for a minute or two. If your son and his girlfriend do not pick it up, then consider suggesting that the bill be split among the older generation.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600

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