Christmas Ale and Michelle Obama

Wow. I’ve been stuck on the treadmill all week. Nothing like winter in Northeast Ohio: perennially and pathetically grey, snow and occassionally an ice storm just to make things interesting. And yet, c’mon. For all of us who have lived here for years (decades?, forever?) would we really be happy in a place like Florida, playing shuffleboard and searching for the world’s softest yogurt?

christmasale_bottleglassNah. And besides. No Great Lakes Christmas Ale. There are certain things that define the season. This is one of them — and it bridges the generations. Here’s a for instance. I was at the Cleveland Cavaliers game last night sitting quietly next to a young guy and two of his friends. At mid-game I retired to the concession area with my wife, Mary, and son, Brian. And returned with a plastic cup filled to the rim with “a holiday ale brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon.”

“Christmas Ale?” my neighbor asked. “I can smell it. And it reminds me of Christmas.”

Well, it was as though LeBron had reupped for another tour of duty with the home team. High fives all around. And best wishes for the holidays. Bet that doesn’t happen with soft yogurt.

By the way, the Cavaliers are engaging in a nasty violation of customer relations. Every time they want the crowd to boo they display the Pittsburgh Steelers logo on the big arena screens. WTF. Better they flash the photo of my Merrill Lynch financial adviser. Or Dick Cheney. I digress.

Then I got home — surviving the ice storm that turned the roads into a combination hockey rink/demolition derby. But I had another nice e-mail from Michelle Obama. She has been good about keeping in touch, much better than I am at this time of year with friends who I have managed to let drift away over the years. Wonder if my high school buddies still gather on Christmas Eve to quaff a few at the Mayfield Lounge on Pittsburgh’s North Side?

Anyway, here’s Michelle’s note:

Rob —

This holiday season, the grassroots movement you helped build can make a big difference for those in need.

I hope you will join me in supporting your favorite charity or contributing to causes that are especially meaningful to me and my family.

While many of us will spend the holidays counting our blessings and sharing dinner with loved ones, millions of people around the country won’t be so fortunate. Donating to your local food bank will help provide a holiday meal to people in your community who can’t afford one.

Talking with the families of deployed troops was one of the most rewarding experiences I had during the campaign. Giving to Operation USO Care Package is a great way to send members of our military stationed around the world a reminder that someone back home is thinking of them.

This is a time to celebrate our blessings, the new year, and a new era for our country. But it’s also a time to come together on behalf of those who need our help.

Do what you can to help today by locating your local food bank and giving your support:

Or send a care package to an American in uniform:

Thank you for all that you do and have a very happy holiday season,


I’m encouraged by Michelle’s apparent spirit of caring.  And I really am confident that we are going to see change begining next year that will help people throughout our nation. Let’s hope. This country is in a mess. We need leadership. We need honest, complete and timely communication. And we need to work together to solve the many problems facing our economy, our schools and our way of life in general. That’s my wish as we move into the holidays and beyond.

And if Michelle and Barack keep in touch, maybe next year I’ll invite them to stop by.

For a Christmas Ale.

Happy holidays, everyone.


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