Christmas Vacation 2013
By Mary Carton
I don’t know what the matter was this year; I just wasn’t ready for Christmas and didn’t want to get ready. Maybe it’s all the early Christmas sales and the focus on the reason for the season is being lost or reduced in significance.
We haven’t been anywhere in three years, and Mom wanted to go to Calloway Gardens. Mom hasn’t liked to stay home since Dad died. Each day she would ask if I’d made reservations and the answer was no not yet, I need to call them about a question I have. I was too busy printing up historical Christmas cards to sell in Coldwater Books and printing up my own Hooligan Christmas cards and trying to get them addressed to send to friends. Several of the Christmas functions in town such as the Dickens Christmas Ya’ll, Plantation Christmas and Christmas in the Country at Langrange College site, oh and don’t forget, Christmas parades took up a lot of my free time.
I finally got around to calling and asking my question and got back on line to make reservations. Even though I had searched by cottages and number of adults, the price shown was for the hotel not cottages as I found out when I clicked reserve. So here we are three days away from leaving and still no where to go. The next afternoon I had to break the news to Mom that it was a whole lot more than I had told her earlier. In the meantime I had asked my friends on Facebook if anyone knew of cabins to stay at in Branson, Missouri, and I had a recommendation ready.
First order of business was to replace the batteries in the Hooligans collar for the underground fence. I didn’t want a call from the neighbors that they were out running amok. I learned after the first time I replaced batteries after installing the fence, that I needed to tie Patches up while doing this process. She knew that the collar was keeping her in and when I took it off of her; she wouldn’t let me catch her to put it back on. Oh she would mind when I told her to come, only I could touch her nose and not get any closer than that to her neck. She is also the first one to get a fresh battery. She sees the others getting a new battery and goes into hiding. She wasn’t a happy camper and was giving me the evil eye during the ordeal.
We were due to leave on Saturday and a storm was forecast for that night into Sunday. I was worried that the Hooligans would try to break into the house as they have tried during storms since someone shot them with a shotgun. I went by the Co-op and picked up a couple of bales of hay and dragged them under the new sunroom crawl space on the back of the house. Hopefully that would help. I made arrangements with Jessica next door to feed them while we were gone. I bagged up each feeding in a zip lock bag for each Hooligan and all she would have to do is dump it in their pans at the end of the driveway.
I recorded the address we were going to in my new RAM’s built in GPS and washed two loads of clothes and worked on packing. Early the next morning we head out and Mom has apparently been cooking for a week. I had trouble getting everything into the cooler. My idea of a vacation is trying out the various eateries around town. Mom was complaining that listening to the voice on the GPS was irritating her. Once we got to highway 72, the voice calmed down and so did Mom. I really liked the picture of the interstate and the arrows in the lanes I should stay in once we hit Memphis. Once we hit Arkansas we ran into rain, thunder and lightening and lots of it.
One thing I noticed along the roads in Arkansas and Missouri was the little road signs when you reached each town that had the town name and population on it. Reminded me of Hee Haw when they would spotlight a town and population. I drove Mom crazy saying the town name and population and then saying salute!! We passed towns such as Damascus population 384, Twin Groves 276 and Clinton with 9043. We also went by places with unusual names like Toad Suck Park. Now how does one come up with a name like that?
Once we got settled in at our cabin, the temperature in Branson was 38 degrees. It was 67 when we left Alabama that morning. I really appreciated the heated steering wheel on my new truck whenever I got out and back in. The next morning we went to church and dropped by the office to see about tickets for some of the shows. Mom wanted to see Todd Oliver, Jim Stafford and the Butterfly Palace. I had the Dixie Stampede or the Branson Belle Showboat on my list. Jim Stafford was out of town, so we settled on the Butterfly Palace, Todd Oliver, a ventriloquist with dogs rescued from a shelter and the Hagoods and the Shepherd of the Hills Christmas lights. We also dropped by Stonehill Winery for a tour.
I’m not sure what Mom was expecting in a tourist trap as she kept commenting on the price of things. We both thought the Hagoods at the RFD Theater were the two brothers on Hee Haw, but were surprised to see a family of five brothers and a sister. While waiting in line for our tickets, Hee Haw was on RFD TV and I realized that it was the Hager twins, not Hagoods. They put on a good show, and we got to see Buttermilk, Bullet and Trigger. At this point you younger folks Google Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Monday it snowed and we stayed at the resort for the owner’s dinner and were treated to a show by several entertainers, among them a guy who used to be the bass singer for the Blackwoods and Elvis, and another guy imitating Barney Fife. We got to the Todd Oliver show a little early and the parking lot was behind the theater. I parked in a spot that everyone coming in saw the tag on the back of my truck. I was walking around in my Auburn jacket in a sea of Missouri clothing and when we came out of the building, there was a note stuck in my door handle. I expected something else besides the WDE Merry Christmas on the note.
Christmas Eve, Mom wanted to see Springfield, Missouri. Once we got there, found downtown and pulled into a cemetery to get a picture of a beautiful gazebo, Mom was ready to go back to Branson. I wondered if it was decorated for the Fourth of July.
We left early Christmas morning, and I ignored the “We’ll never get home” comments from Mom each time I stopped and turned around to get a picture of the St. Joe depot, a yard full of old tractors and a train engine, and old stores. The last turn around was in Cherokee, Alabama, getting pictures of the shoe tree. That brought an even more irritated comment. I’m still regretting not turning around and getting a picture of the old red barn in the snow outside Branson, but I figured it was too dark.
After we got home, I threw in a load of clothes in the washer, turned it on, pushed start and walked off. Later I came in to throw them in the dryer and they were still dry. I repeated the procedure a couple of more times over the course of a few days. Finally Saturday the fourth time was the charm. After starting it, I stood and watched the washer and noticed there wasn’t any water going in it. I had turned the faucets off before we left for Branson. After I turned the water back on, it worked just fine. It was a fairly new machine and I was starting to get irritated about new and improved.
The Hooligans were glad to see us home. They were back to eating in their normal spots in the barn and got enough biscuits to make up for the days we were gone.
And Mary? I finished my Christmas shopping Christmas Eve. A 50-mm close up lens for myself. I can’t wait until the spring flowers start blooming to try it out. Another nice Christmas present was from John Deere Financial telling me the Hooligans 3032E and loader were paid off.
Happy New Year. The New Year here brought some of the coldest temperatures that we have seen since the 1960’s. I didn’t make any resolutions this year, except to spend more time in the garden and traveling around my area taking pictures. The only one I heard from the Hooligans is for Blackie not to go on a mice hunt right at feeding time.
Mom, she really enjoyed the trip and that is all that matters.
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