Sunday, December 18, 2011


     If you think football is big in Texas, you should see Christmas!

     I don’t know that firsthand, but I’m a grandchild of Mimi and Papa, aka Nettie and Graham Powell, who emigrated from Texas in 1941. Mimi and Papa brought their pecans and Big Texas Christmases (hereafter referred to as BTCs) with them to their new homeland.

     To the untrained eye, BTCs appear excessive. We BTCians overdecorate, overbake, overspend, and overgift. After all, there can never be too many ornaments, too many varieties of candy and cookies, and too many presents under the tree.

     When it comes to gifts, the emphasis of the BTC is quantity. One can keep quality in mind, as long as it’s really on sale, but the goal of the true BTC is a colorfully-wrapped mountain of boxes and bags piled in front of each family member on Christmas morning. Hence, inexpensive “stockin’” gifts are welcome, particularly if they’re funny.

     When my sister and I were kids, Mimi and Mom, the only first-generation Texan-American, secretly stitched, shopped, and squirreled away bargains for the BTC. A few weeks before the big day, Papa would sneak some bills into we grandkids’ pockets and whisper, “That’s for Christmas!” We understood that it was not to be spent on anything but presents for the family. As if all the gifts weren’t enough, Papa made sure that Santa left every Powell descendant (fortunately we’re a very small family) a greenback for the day-after-Christmas sales! Dad, a BTCian by marriage and heart if not by birth, gradually assumed Papa’s role as Chief Financier of the BTC.

     An unwritten but set-in-stone commandment of the BTC: Only one gift is to be opened at a time, by only one person at a time. Only after the treasure has been exclaimed over and gratitude expressed is it the next guy’s turn. No gift goes without appreciation because the gifter bought or made it out of love for the giftee. Naturally, this process takes hours, but coffee and restroom breaks are permissible.

     Mimi and Papa now celebrate Christmas in heaven, the place that invented extravagant and joyful gifting, but their heritage continues here in Wyoming. I’d give you more details, but I’ve got to go—I’ve got lots of presents to wrap!

“Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.”
                            1 Corinthians 13:13 MSG

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