Friday’s Weekend Column
Christmas Weekend—Saint Augustine by Way of Pensacola

by James Glaser
December 22, 2006

I am now living in Tallahassee, which is at mile marker #199 on interstate Highway 10. Pensacola is at mile marker #12 on the same highway. Saint Augustine is about forty miles south of mile marker #361.

I am heading out to Pensacola on Friday, coming back to Tallahassee on Saturday and heading over to Saint Augustine on Monday, Christmas morning. Now only women would be asking, why is he going that way to Saint Augustine? Men don't have to ask, they already know there is a women involved in this trip. That would be right.

At least I get to pick the highways we are going on, and it will be back roads all the way. I am going to avoid interstate 10 as much as possible. I have never even heard of Owl's Head, Florida, but this Friday I am going to drive right through it. I read this in the New York Times,

    "It's a pretty slow rise as you drive up from the beach," Mr. Davis said. "But by the time you get to Owl's Head"—due north of Seaside and about 15 miles inland—"you're at about 100 feet."

    By Florida standards, he said, "this is nosebleed country."

I am also going to look at Freeport and Ebro. When I do meet back up with the interstate I'll take a look Mossy Head. I have this thing about seeing the Florida that was here before the invasion of retirees from the North flooded the place, and you can only see that if you get off the coast to small towns on back roads.

I was looking at real estate in De Funiak Springs, and you can still buy a home there for twenty five thousand, and have your pick of several for under a hundred thousand. I have no idea of what these places are like, but I'm going to find out this weekend. Heck if I'm going to drive eight hundred or a thousand miles, I want see something other than the back of some Freightliner going down the road at seventy five miles an hour.

I am ready for Christmas. Everything has been bought and mailed out. I sent a big box to my son in New York. I sent it to the studio he works at, and he borrowed a two wheel cart to get it home. That would be by subway and then his place is a forth floor walk up. Next year I am thinking of sending him bar bells.

There is no snow down here and no chance of snow down here, but I don't miss it. The nicest thing about snow is that it makes everything look so clean. Of course when it starts to melt, it makes everything look dirty.

I was thinking that I should write something about how Christmas is Christ's birthday, but it isn't. If you check it out, Christmas is taken from some pagan worship as was Easter.

    Most biblical scholars and preachers readily admit that they know Christ was not born on December 25th. However, they claim that this day is as good as any other to celebrate the birth of Jesus, despite the fact that it was originally a pagan celebration called Saturnalia which commemorated the birth of the sun god.

I thought that President Bush would have had some words about Christ's birth this past week when he was talking to the nation, but the closest he came was when he asked Americans to shop more. I think right there is the real meaning of Christmas, at least in this day and age.

I always wonder each year how many people let the Christmas season and their gift buying spree tip them into bankruptcy. You know that has to happen, but when the President of the United States thinks buying during the Christmas season is important enough for our economy that he will talk about it in the same speech with the War in Iraq and our national economy, well then everyone should get out there and buy a few more gifts.

As I said, there is no snow down here, and to be honest, I don't have a tree either. Up north I would walk out in the woods and cut one. Some years I would cut two or three and put them all up close together so as to make one really full one. I looked at a few trees down here, but to get one I would like, I would have to pay out about seventy five dollars. Seventy five dollars for a dead tree seems a bit stiff to me.

One thing I have done this season is put money in the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign. I have been a bell ringer in the past, and I know the Salvation Army helps out a lot of Americans all year long. I like it when I see parents give their kids some money, so they can put it in the kettle. It is a good way to teach your children how to help those not as fortunate as they are.

I just got back from a final trip to the mall. It was crowded, too crowded for me to stick around very long. One thing that I noticed was the kiosk that was selling gold chains. There were about twenty five African Americans around the counters, all dressed in their finest going-to-the-mall clothes. That would be baggy pants that were about ten inches below their waist, with their underwear sticking out the top, brightly colored professional football team jackets, baseball caps on sideways, and chains, lots and lots of gold chains. Some of these guys even had capped gold teeth. There were several policemen standing right near by.

I would see middle age people, black and white, and families with kids walk up toward this group, they would look and see this group, and most of them would turn around and head back toward the exit doors. I think the mall stores made less money tonight.

I tried shopping but the check out lines were so long that I figured it wasn't worth my time. Driving home in the dark, I could have been in Northern Minnesota. The tip off that I was in the South was stopping at a red light and seeing most people crossing the street in tee shirts, shorts, and flip flops. I knew right then I wasn't Christmas shopping in Minnesota.

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