Monday, December 12, 2005

A Christmas Story


My day to post is the 11th and I have no idea where I was mentally when that day came and went. My apologies.

The sad truth is that I'm just one of those people who has overextended her life - as have so many of you - only I handle it badly. Once Thanksgiving hits, I'm in an ever-increasing downward spiral of deadlines, responsibilities and to-do tasks, heading toward the end of the year with no hope of possibly getting it all done. For that reason, instead of enjoying the season, I tend to be somewhat of a Scrooge. I do, however, remember with great fondness, one particular Christmas.

It was years ago, before my third child was born, and my older son and daughter were four and two years old respectively. We were driving from Texas to Missouri to visit my family in Columbia. This was not our first long car trip and being much younger ourselves, my husband and I would usually set out in the late afternoon of the first day and drive all night while the kids slept. (Actually, my husband drove while I did that jello-neck head-bob thing while fighting to stay awake and keep him company. )

Now, if you are an avid hunter, like my husband, or married to an avid hunter, then you'll know that there's a huge Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, MO. In those days, we didn't have a Bass Pros Shop in or close to Houston and so the one in Springfield was the only one we were likely to see. Unfortunately, we were usually passing through Springfield long before the store opened and never had a chance to stop.

On this particular Christmas trip, however, something happened to prevent us from leaving Houston at our usual time and we ended up hitting the road around 3:00 or 4:00 the next morning. By the time we reached Springfield, the sun had set and both kids and adults were beyond tired of riding in the car, so we decided to stop for the night. The added bonus to this decision - and likely the final argument in convincing my husband to spend money on a hotel room - was that the Bass Pro Shop was still open!

With a light snow falling, we arrived at the store. It was in full holiday regalia with bright sparkling lights in the parking lot and on the building, huge candy canes lining the walkways and wreaths hanging on hunting stands. The grills, pits and four-wheelers were adorned in huge red bows and right by the entrance, in a display all his own, was Santa sitting in a sleigh pulled by eight white-tailed bow-and-arrow shooting dummies.

In eager anticipation, we walked into the store. It was like being transported into a wonderland. Music played in the background, the scent of freshly roasted nuts wafted through the air. There was so much to see, we hardly knew where to start. My kids were immediately drawn to the large grizzly bear standing in a display off to the side.

"Is it real?" my son asked, gazing up at the huge creature.

"No, honey. It used to be alive," I explained, "but someone shot it and stuffed it." I worried that this might trouble him, but he seemed to accept it and we moved on. Next we saw a bobcat, perched on top of a dividing wall.

"Is it real?" my son asked again.

"No, honey," I replied. "It used to be alive, but someone shot it and stuffed it."

This became a ritual exchange as we moved through the store, inspecting all the animals on display. Finally, hours later, replete with packages of goodies, we left the store. As we made our way across the parking lot to our car, I felt a tug on my hand.

"What's wrong?" I asked, looking down into my son's troubled face.

He cast a quick glance to the front of the store before looking up at me with big, sad eyes. "Momma...who shot and stuffed Santa?"

Happy Holidays to you all!


1 comment:

Diane Perkins said...

This story is way beyond cute, Robin! It put a big smile on my face!