Christmas in Fort Myers, Florida with my grandparents. Unemployment in Lee County is 13.3%, the foreclosure rate for the county hovers in the top five for the nation. In past years, McGregor Boulevard during the holiday season rivals the Las Vegas strip in wattage. This year, the lights are in short supply. The house with the neon "Jesus is Love" sign that has been around since my mom was a kid is abandoned. We've looked at two nursing homes for my grandparents. I gave at mass, but then felt queasy because I'm not sure what it means that "we pray that those without food or shelter in this holiday season find sustenance and comfort in the shelter of the lord". Probably would have been better if they said "we pray that those without food or shelter in this holiday season find food and comfort through extension of unemployment benefits, food stamps and prosecution of foreclosure mills; activities which we are directly funding through our ministry", but I'm crossing my fingers that they meant that anyway. Then the priest bid everyone to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Jesus Christ. Why is this the hot new thing? The priest at my local parish also does this. There is nothing to say but no.
I bought an inflatable, 5 foot, light-up penguin that aggressively offers a candy cane to those who pass. It looks like he is trying to hitch a ride. His name is Doug. I also found a full-on elf costume for Charlie. My grandfather is really pleased with the penguin and, out of all of us, including my grandmother, Charlie is the only person he remembers when he has episodes. Best to keep the focus on the one we all love the most.
To everyone I love, I am giving Charlie a hug and pretending that you are there also. Merry Christmas and I am so happy I know you.