As you and I were checking off a few items from our Christmas lists - hoping to make a wish come true for someone special - we were helping fulfill dreams of a different sort. --

Retail sales rose 0.4 percent in December. Adding the 0.9 percent increase in November and it made for the best holiday retail season in 12 years. Online shopping grew by 11.5 percent.

Prices at the register were up a scant 0.1 percent last month. Inflation for all of 2017 climbed 2.1 percent.  When food and energy are taken out of the equation, the annual inflation rate rose 1.8 percent - even with 2016. --