Monday, December 7, 2009

christmas lights and florida homeless

Because of the way we have our furniture arranged in our rather small but decent apartment, James and I decided to get a little tabletop tree for our Christmas tree. It was $9.99 at Walgreens and came pre-lit including all the ornaments. Maybe it was a bit of a splurge but we didn't know where we'd put our full-size tree without losing walking space and looking cramped. I'm actually quite fond of our humble Christmas tree. Henry, Marc and Nay Nay even got to help decorate the tree without me fearing for broken ornaments since they're all plastic.

Last night, we drove downtown to look at all the lights. We live about 5 minutes from the "main" street; Las Olas Boulevard. It's so pretty at night during Christmas. They have all the palm tree trunks decorated with white lights. We took the kids to see this cool fountain all lit up for Christmas and we enjoyed looking at one of the many Christmas trees they have set up downtown.
I wasn't able to take many pictures because it was sprinkling during our walk. But, we had a nice time seeing all the lights.....until it started actually raining! We are not very prepared for rain, ever. I don't have an umbrella I carry around with me and James doesn't keep one attached to his belt like maybe a true Floridian might. Or would that be a true dork? Anyway, we had to run for cover under a store's awning and wait for the rain to subside. We didn't think it would anytime soon and our car was parked several blocks away in a parking garage. James suggested we run into The Cheesecake Factory for more protection, it was right across the street from where we were standing. Once we got inside James went to get the car. Henry was not pleased that he couldn't go with his daddy. He wanted to help. He cried, and shivered from the cold. I was ticked at myself for not being more prepared. It was 7:30. None of us had eaten supper. The Cheesecake Factory was out of the question for many reasons. There was a 20 minute wait to be seated and hungry, tired kids waiting for their food to arrive was not such a pleasant idea in my mind. The price of the food and the fact that we, being a little wet from the rain, looked more like street urchins than respectable patrons kept us from dining in.
After about 10 minutes, James made it back with the car. We loaded up and went to the nearest McDonald's. Keep in mind that we were downtown in Ft. Lauderdale. You know, court house, community college, county jail, bus station......yeah! So, we're at the McDonald's and as we walk in I notice that most the people in the McDonald's look a little worse for wear. I put two and two together. We, my friends, had just walked into, not McDonald's, but the Homeless Hub. Quite a contrast from the quiet beautiful ambiance of The Cheesecake Factory. I tried not to let it bother me but as we ate they kept coming in. Some had obviously just gotten out of jail as well. I wasn't worried for our safety but I felt that we were being watched. I felt guilty that I didn't finish my sandwich but I did saved it and brought it home. I felt bad that I was disgusted that I had to take two kids to the bathroom and James had to take one. McDonald's, as a whole, do not usually offer the cleanest of restrooms anyway. Add Homeless Hub to the mix and you have Germ Central goin on in the public restroom. So, we got a ton of toilet paper, squirted it with antibaterial soap from the sink, and wiped it all over the toilet seat. Made us feel better even if our kid's bootys were a little sudsy!
The kids ate their food well. We even splurged and got them Happy Meals. They were oblivious to the fact that we were the only ones in the restaurant who had a place to call home. I told James we aren't ever eating there again. He agreed.
I'm so thankful we do have a place to call home, and a clean toilet.


Laurie said...

Your little tree is perfect! The downtown lights are so pretty! I'm so thankful you have a place to call home and a clean toilet too! Your McDonald's experience also made me think... "Yeah the outsides of some folks make us want to goo on the antiseptic, antibacterial etc... then there are hearts which we cannot see, that need the cleansing blood of Christ, (maybe even belonging to Cheesecake Factory patrons who are dressed up and seemingly sophisticated)." I love that God seeks and saves the lost no matter where they dwell, or how they smell!
I enjoyed your story!

Olivia Arlene said...

I love the little tree! Very cute and practical!

The lights downtown are pretty too.

Sorry about your rain/cheesecake/hunger/McDonald's/jail/homeless situation though. It does make a person thankful though doesn't it!?!

Anonymous said...

Loved your tree Tab and the pictures were great. We can appreciate so much when we see those less fortunate. Sometimes it is a wakeup call for all the blessings we have. Wish you and the family would be here to enjoy all this beautiful snow. It is a lovely day here in Kansas. Love you, Grandma B