If you do visit Florida, one week you want to avoid going to Harbor View or any other development, for that matter, is the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Not only because it is when all of the tourists come and the airfares are at their highest, but because it is the only time that Harbor View (and similar developments, I’m sure) appears to be a summer camp for children, rather than a retirement community. Everyone’s children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and even friends of nieces and nephews, who are off from school, come to visit that week. If you want to come to Florida to relax, then Christmas week is not the time to do it. There are kids splashing in the pool; there is noise from the children in the neighboring apartments; and there are long waits at all of the restaurants. (Of course there are always long waits at restaurants, but they are even longer during Christmas week.)
The other difference during Christmas week is that The Characters are usually on their best behavior. Sure they do the expected bragging to their friends and neighbors, or anyone who will listen, about their son ‘the dentist’ and their granddaughter the ‘third-grade genius.’ But because they have guests, they don’t seem to talk unkindly about each other as much as they do during the regular season. And overall, the residents seem just a little more ordinary.
So even though I now bring a child with me when I visit Mom and Dad, I try to make sure we go later in the winter, because I just don’t think you can get a true taste of Harbor View during Christmas week. “No,” I decide for certain later, after hearing Mom tell me yet another story of some of The Characters’ antics during the regular season, “going during Christmas week just wouldn’t be worth it.”