“To us, Christmas was the time for firecrackers, and I had never seen so many outside of a store. Uncle Charlie stacked boxes of Roman candles beside the fireworks. He handed us a sack with a pound of loose black powder and brought in six boxes of shotgun shells. ‘I’m aiming to get me some squirrel hunting in this Christmas,’ he said,” according to an excerpt from This Stubborn Soil by William A. Owens.
Bill Owens’ recounting of a Texas Christmas Eve spent at my great-grandparents’ house was filled with family and all of the seasonal mischief that accompanied such large family gatherings. The timing of this recollection was sometime just before the outbreak of the Great War. Several branches of my cousins would meet for Christmas to exchange gifts. Gifts in such an austere time might include a few pieces of fruit, nuts and candy. The men would pass a jug of holiday cheer, while the women would admonish the older kids to be more moderate with the gratuitous use of fireworks and firearms. And a whole gaggle of young ‘uns would be left to their own devices.
Even though the families lived in many cases less than 10 miles apart, travel by horse and wagon limited their visits to three or four times a year. Christmas was very much a time to break the monotony of scratching a living on the farm.
Fast forward a scarce 50 years and two generations later. As my siblings and I enjoyed our Saturday morning bowl of Sugar Pops while gorging on Looney Tunes, my mother delivers the news that all our cousins are coming to our place for Christmas. That would total about 15 kids. It would be a sociology master’s thesis in the making. With that many kids together, someone would always be crying because someone would always be hurt in this Yuletide Lord of the Flies.
The highlight on that Christmas morning of 1968 was running to the living room to find the entire room wall-to-wall with the floor completely covered in Christmas gifts. The tree stood sentinel over a sea of wrapping paper. My gosh, it was absolutely fantastic. Santa evidently had given himself a wicked hernia the night before. The paper tearing Kraken had been released. With this tsunami of new toys, games, cap guns, and rubber-tipped bows and arrows, it did not take long for the crying to begin.
So after 22 years of Cuero’s Christmas in the Park and as we prepare to enjoy the 2020 season, any tears shed will be tears of joy. Joy to embrace the holiday normalcy we once knew, albeit a slightly adjusted normalcy. Christmas in the Park will continue 6-10 p.m. each evening through Jan. 2. The last night will be for walk-through only. To adhere to safety protocols and ensure a smooth flow of traffic, vehicle occupants will not be able to exit their vehicles while driving through the park. This year, donations may also be made digitally via Paypal at cuerochristmasinthepark.org and as guests exit the park.
On behalf of the Cuero Development Corporation board of directors, thank you to the countless volunteers, sponsors and benefactors, community groups, CISD student organizations, city and CDC staff, and the organizers with the December Events Committee for their tireless dedication to keeping Cuero a great place to locate a business and raise a family. Now go make those holiday memories and God Bless.