To borrow a phrase from England's King George III, "What? What?" Or was it, "What! What!"
Whatever, it's that time of year again, the time when the newspaper ads outweigh the news, and I have to remind myself that it's those ads that in great part pay my writing fees (since I officially retired in 2011, I'm no longer on the payroll, but am doing what some people might call "piece work," that is, like garment workers and tomato pickers, I get paid by the piece) and fund my retirement check. So I am grateful for those ads.
Even so, I'm not much into gift-buying, since the youngest member of my immediate family is well past 40 and can no longer fake believing in Santa Claus, who provides the real fun and surprises of the holiday season, and we all decided years ago that giving gifts to people who already have more than enough "stuff" is simply counter-productive.
So we decided to take the money we would have spent on each other and donate it to our favorite local and national charities and causes, above and beyond what we donate throughout the year. It's also a chance to remember those who remember me, even though I never see them, and I promise it will make you feel good to do the same.
On the local scene, I send a modest remembrance to my two favorite organizations: The Angelus Inc., and the Humane Society of Pasco County.
The Angelus is a group of comfortable and happy homes and learning areas in Hudson where 32 developmentally disabled people live with loving caretakers, and another 50 come on a daily basis to learn gardening, computer skills, arts, crafts, animal care and home economics, as well as receive therapy in a swimming pool donated by two generous benefactors.
The Angelus was started in 1979 in St. Petersburg, but moved to 17 lovely, wooded acres in Hudson in 1985, where it's grown into its own little community and education center.
The nonprofit center does receive government help, but like other such entities, that help is dwindling and private donations are needed more than ever. The big donations are vital — country singer/fiddler Charlie Daniels is a big backer — but the little ones add up, too. If just 1,000 of us would send $25 each, that would go a long way toward providing services to many people, and I'm positive there are 1,000 of us out here who can do that, or more.
Send to Donations, c/o The Angelus, Inc., 12413 Hudson Ave., Hudson, FL 34669.
My second local check is more a memorial than a donation. It goes to the Humane Society of Pasco County (P.O. Box 10, Elfers, FL 34680), where many, many years ago, I found my beloved cat companion Bustopher Jones II. Bustopher was my buddy, confidant and pal for many wonderful years. He turned me from a rather indifferent animal-liker into a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool Cat Lady, simply through his loving personality.
Bustopher is waiting at the Rainbow Bridge now (animal lovers will know what that means), and a big ol' Tonkinese cat named Snickers (he looks just like a big Snickers candy bar) is my sidekick now, but I'll never forget the Humane Society's role in bringing me together with Bustopher and will be eternally grateful.
Every county has such organizations, and I know they would love to get local help, too. Find them online or in the phone book and send a check. Again, it all adds up.
As for other local checks, it's good to remember the fellows who come in the wee hours of the morning to pick up your garbage (after my neighbor sat by the curb at 4 a.m. a couple of years ago to make sure the check got into the hands of the fellows who actually pick up the sacks, my sanitation crew chief has thoughtfully dropped off a card with his address so she doesn't have to do that again); and also remember your newspaper carrier, who gets Our Favorite Newspaper to your driveway or doorknob every single day of the year, rain, shine or hurricane.
If you just can't constrain yourself from giving a gift, make it a double whammy by buying gift certificates to your local theater, orchestra, band or chorale. That way, you support a good cause while providing the recipient with a nice evening out that neither adds pounds nor clutters up the back of the closet.
I've seen all the shows in the first half of the season at Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey, Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill and the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson, as well as Hernando Symphony Orchestra. If the second half is as enjoyable as the first half, you'll be doing someone a real treat, both behind and in front of the footlights.