December 23, 2020
As I write to you tonight I know that those of you in Hibbing are getting the first blizzard of the season. You might think I’m being facitious when I tell you that it’s been the coldest fall/winter here in Naples in seventeen years. It could drop to 39 degrees on Christmas Eve. Believe me when I say that the cold here is worse than what we had in October. The Gulf humidity gets me right cold down to the bones. And, believe me when I admit that I’ve always enjoyed a blizzard and watching the wind-driven snow create drifts that look like small mountains. But . . . I don’t miss the cleanup.
Anyhow, if things go as I hope, this will be my last season down here. Not because of the cold for sure (most afternoons climb into the 70’s) but I’m a Minnesotan born and raised. I’m lucky to have Gail back home to do the cleanup and keep our house in good order while I’m away. I’ve become stretched financially by maintaining two residences on a fixed income. If you think I must be rich with my little book business . . . you would be very wrong. Not complaining, the Lord has blessed my life in countless ways and I’m grateful.
I will be with my daughter, Erin and her family (and her friend Josh) which will be very nice. And I’ll facetime with my daughter Shannon in Prior Lake and with my son, Tiffer — along with his wife Susan and their three delighful grandkids in Cohasset. I miss them all and I miss my partner Gail, too. And Hibbing. The thing about Hibbing is that wherever I go I see people that I’ve known for years. The best people on earth. I’ve got great neighbors in my little retirement community and will miss them when I’m gone.
Naples is growing by leaps and bounds and it is one of the wealthiest places in America. People swarm here for the climate mostly. But as it becomes increasingly popular it cannot seem to manage the growth. Traffic is incredibly congested and changing the infrastructure seems an impossibility. This year for the first time I flew down and bought a beater to get around. But around is mostly to the grocery store, church, and my daughter’s home. COVID is rampant here as it is up there and everywhere else. Fortunately where I live here is close to everything but kinda isolated at the same time.
I started this message to wish you all a Merry Christmas and am finally getting to it. I wish you all a wonderful holiday and the best of health in the New Year. To me the real joy of Christmas is what it is meant to be. Our Savior is the reason for the season — really the only reason. The gift-giving is a frill but a way of sharing our love as well . . . so that’s all well and good. My gift to each of you is a prayer at Mass. A prayer that when I see you next we can resume our friendships. I have two very close friends who I may not see again as their health is failing rapidly. I will see them later in a much better place. God bless you all.