Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's What I Wanted For Christmas!

The question is the same one asked every year, "What do I want for Christmas?"

Well, this year, I actually gave it a lot of thought. Usually I don't really care what I get. I’m always grateful and happy with what folks will buy me. And the truth be known, I love the surprise of opening up gifts and seeing what folks come up with. It sure reflects how they see you – if you know what I mean!

I guess my wife thought I needed a kid’s toy last year. Last Christmas she decided to buy me a remote control car.

Now, believe me when I say that I never thought in my wildest imagination that I’d be working one of them things. No sir, not me, right? I figured that that was for kids and I’d save it for when my nieces and nephews come around.

Well, fact is that I’ve played around with the thing. I use it to frustrate our dog Jake.

Jake becomes completely helpless watching this thing buzz around, spin, reverse, and roll around the way it does. Poor dog can’t figure out whether he should bite it, chew it, or just sit on it to make it stop!

So yes, for some unknown reason, this year I was actually thinking about asking for something that I might really want and need. And yup, you can bet the ranch that I gave it some thought.

So what did I want?

Well, since I have more clothes than I can wear out, I knew I don't really need clothes. As for boots, western and construction boots, well I have enough to last me. And of course, yes there’s socks!

Socks are usually something that I can always use, except last year everyone gave my socks that now I’m good for the next twenty years at least with socks.

I thought about a new yellow rain slicker, but then again the one I have is still holding up fine. And as for a new hat, well I just bought a new Stetson to be in my friend's wedding - so I have a brand spanking new hat that hasn't even been around here but a little while. So no, I didn’t ask for either.

How about a new saddle, or bridles, breast collars, spurs, blankets, hole punches, latigo, cinches, new halters? Nope! I got everything I need there. And before you get all crazy yelling at the computer that “a man can never have enough tack!”

Well pard, I feel the same way – but I really do have a lot of tack! And when I took a long look at all the tack that I have, well I decided that maybe I should start thinking about my other likes.

What can I ask for in line with what I need to go fishing or camping, hunting, and shooting, guns, and of course Cowboy Action Shooting?

Well, I hadn't been fishing or camping in a long time and didn't know when I'd have time again for that, so I figured that fishing was out.

Of course I do need more ammo to shoot Cowboy Action Shooting. I shoot a lot so I can always use more ammo. I’m always ordering bullets and brass, so I can definitely use them.

As for the powder, the primers, the reloading equipment, and of course the “know-how” to reload my own, well that’s why I’m so grateful that my father-in-law reloads for me.

He has the reloading equipment and the “know-how” to get it done right. Besides, he loves putting those bullets in each case. He is very precise. He would've made the perfect Old World Toy Maker because of his patience and attention to detail.

So I finally had something to tell my wife about! Yes, there was something that I wanted for Christmas.

She immediately told me to write it down.

Now, let me make one thing clear, it's never safe to give a wannabe writer a piece of paper and a pen. And since my wife gave those very things to me to jot down my Christmas List, well now I had to write something more than just bullets and brass.

So since I've wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument, I decided that I needed an instrument. The problem is that I've never had any musical ability. But then again this is 2011, soon to be Twenty-Twelve, so why should a lack of musical ability stop me from playing an instrument.

Just turn on your radio to any kind of station and you're guaranteed to hear noise being passed off as "music" these days. So why should I be any different - I mean, at least I know I can't sing or play an instrument.

Maybe that's why Christmas Music is so popular! Once the radio stations turn over their broadcasts to Christmas Music, they double their listener-ship. In contrast to most music today, Christmas Music is understandable, clear, pleasant, and yes the voices are beautiful for the most part.

And as for an instrument to play, well, I thought that I wanted something nice like say a slide-trombone. So yes, I wrote "Slide-Trombone." Then I got to thinking granted a slide-trombone is a tough instrument to lug around. Besides, I really wouldn't consider a slide-trombone a soothing musical instrument.

So then I decided that since I’m willing to ask for a slide-trombone, why not just ask for a tuba for Christmas! So yes, I wrote "Tuba."  At least if you owned a tuba, you'd be able to do so many tunes. Yup, a Cowboy with a tuba on a horse riding into the sunset! Imagine that for a minute!

Of course we do have another problem. You see unknown to most people is the highly classified fact that most, if not all, tuba players can't sing a lick. So how can a cowboy sing to the cattle at night or serenade his sweetheart using a tuba?

Answer, he can't. And yes, in case you're curious, a flute and a sax both have the same problem as a tuba and slide-trombone. They just don't work out for practical purposes like serenading your sweetheart – even if you are a permanent member of a marching band.

Now a guitar, or say a mandolin, now that's a great Christmas present. But then again, they have a lot of strings. The strings can be a potential problem.

So, how about a ukulele? Half the strings, half the weight, half the size, and I played a uke in High School when I was a kid. And no, contrary to what some people want to say, I wasn't that bad with it. A ukulele is that perfect instrument in many ways. It's small, and yes it's easy to pack around. Besides, a cowboy on his horse with a uke is not out of the question at all.

I’ve always had a hard time asking for things for Christmas, especially lately in a time when most folks are short on dollars.

To me, there is a fine line between getting nothing and getting everything for Christmas. It seems to me that those people who get nothing haven’t asked for what’s important. I can thank God that I've always gotten everything for Christmas - at least everything important.

As for my Christmas, I spent Christmas Eve with my family being amazed at how my nieces and nephews are growing into adulthood. Truth is they are already adults for the most part. I love each and every one of them.

I invited a friend to spend Christmas Eve with my family and I was glad that he accepted. I have a very large family and we all get-together at my Mom’s on Christmas Eve. It’s a tradition that goes back many years. At one time many of us would go to Midnight Mass at a Catholic Church, but lately that has stopped because many of us are older and stay awake long enough.

And yes, since it is a lot of folks, it can be a bit chaotic and crazy at times. Fortunately for all, it’s all fun. It was good to hear that my friend had a great time.

On Christmas morning I gave my wife her presents and she gave me mine. All were fantastic! We lingered around the tree for a bit before getting out of our house and on the road to brother-in-law’s home for a Christmas Day get-together and dinner.

When we came home that night, we found that one of our horses, Dancer, had got out of her pen and was roaming around the property. A neighbor closed our gate to make sure she didn’t end up down the road and lost.

Afterward getting her in a pen, we both sat together on the sofa. It was an end to a long day. We talked about our horse Dancer and wondered who could have locked the gate - then we paused and said nothing for a while as we looked at our Christmas tree.

I got what I wanted and needed this Christmas. It wasn't a shirt or a new pair of gloves, it was what I watched on the faces of my family as they celebrated on Christmas Eve. The laughter, the happiness, the joy, and the fun. And yes, as they say, a good time was had by all. 

It was a gift that I wanted to see and touch. I got what I had hoped for when I saw it on the faces of the children who came to see Santa, many for the first time. And yes, there were those who waited all year to sit on his lap and tell him what they wanted.

My gift includes that wonderful feeling of having good friends.  I still can't thank one friend enough for helping me two weeks ago when I needed him on short notice and he came through to help me with a horse.

So much is painted as bleak these days. If one believes the News Media then they may believe the worse. If we believe television, then there is a real lack of hope and goodness in Americans.  I really don't believe it.

I see hope in having neighbors like Alfie Fischer and his son Vince who are willing to help a neighbor simply out of friendship. And yes, there is a goodness about folks like the Fischers that one really can't put into words. They are just good people.

It is important to know that goodness is still alive and well in America. We are being bombarded with the idea that we are at our end, and I won't accept it no matter what might be said.

Yes, I had a great Christmas because I found what is important to me. And yes, it was all I wished for. I wished for signs of love and beauty and kindness, of family closeness, of friendship and camaraderie, of a wonderful life for maybe just a single moment, and I got my wish.  

There is nothing like the night skies here in Glencoe. I can count every star if I had a mind to, point out every planet, and yes even see a satellite or two as they make their arc across the sky. I looked up into the heavens on Christmas night, and gave thanks for all that I've gotten.

Story by Tom Correa