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Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Very Longhorn Christmas Eve --Bridget Stuart

When my husband was considering taking a professorship at the University of Texas-Austin, I flew out with him to scope the town. While he interviewed, I drove around, trying to decide whether I could live here or not.

Well, Austin was greener than I expected; lakes and trees and hills instead of flat desert with blowing tumbleweeds. So far, so good.

But as I tootled about in my little Toyota rental car, I constantly found myself wedged in between huge high shiny pickup trucks--and on the back of each one was a sticker or even a metal emblem of a longhorn cow head. Major freak out; I had no idea there were so many cattle ranchers in Austin! I felt intimidated, like a wee calf in a herd of bull steers. If we moved out here, how would I make conversation with so many cowboys and cowgals? Would I have to read up on breeds and feeds?

Nope. When I mentioned this later to some real Texans ("hey, you all are really into your cows out here") I got enlightened pdq that this cow head thing was actually the symbol for the local college football team, the University of Texas Longhorns. Ohhhhh. Yeah. Okay.

The Longhorns poked me again the next day, when I was out with the real estate agent. She drove me past the University and she pointed out a gi-normous stadium, mentioning some experience she'd had there, when the crowd went wild as they "brought out the bull". I guess I wasn't listening closely enough, because I came away from this drive-by with the distinct impression that the University of Texas had built a billion dollar stadium for the express purpose of staging bullfights. I was mucho impressed, and I commented on this later to my husband's local friends: "I think it's great that there's so much Mexican culture here in Austin, with that big bull ring and all."

Disbelieving stares.

Uh, it turns out the bull is the mascot for the Longhorns. Not the real ones who go "moo", but that damn football team again-- I mean, that sweet, adorable football team for whom I now cheer. Go, boys!

So back to our first Christmas in Texas. Yes, we made the move. We sure aren't in Boston anymore...

Christmas trees in Austin all seem to come from North Carolina and a nine foot tree costs one hundred and fifty bucks. I'm not kidding. After pricing them, I put my foot down and told the Professor, aka my husband, that we were getting a fake tree. He couldn't handle it. He grew up in North Carolina, and this was not his style. I'd never had a fake--excuse me, 'artificial'--tree either, but hey, I never drove through a flash flood in an arroyo before this year. (Yes, I did. In February. Wheee! Now I know the reason for all those big high trucks.)

We got the tree, and it looks fabulous. Not as fabulous as our new Texas friend Carolyn's tree, which is silver with fiber optic branches and rotates continuously. Still, we're happy with our humble green one and are keeping our jealousy under control, at least when Carolyn's within earshot. Oh yes, and I bought a Longhorn ornament to hang on an upper branch, so now we're official.

But I've got to get some Christmas-tree-scented candles before tomorrow, so the Professor will stop mentioning the lack of piney fresh air in the house. Pine Sol-ing the floors, I've been informed, is not an effective substitute.

I just love living in Austin. Merry, merry Christmas everyone, wherever you are. And hook 'em, Horns!

--Bridget Stuart


At 10:20 AM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

LOL!! Poor Bridget. I was born in Texas, but raised in the city so I had the same culture shock when I married a country boy. On the way to his parents' house when I was 18, we passed this huge field with tall green stuff growing in it. The dh said the cotton sure was tall this year. Greenhorn that I was, I agreed. He started laughing and told me it was Johnson grass. Well, how was I supposed to know that? Johnson grass wasn't allowed in city lawns, so I'd never seen it before. 33 years later, he still laughs about it. And of course he had to tell the entire family about it too.

The last time I had to get on my hands and knees to pick pine needles out of my carpet (for months!) was the last time we had a real tree. Putting up the artificial one is a pain, but at least once it's down, I'm not cleaning up after it. The kids have survived, and so has the dh. He even helped put it up this year.

I hope your first Texas Christmas is a merry one!


At 11:31 AM, Blogger MaryF said...


Just curious, how much are real Christmas trees in other parts of the world?

At 1:35 PM, Blogger bridget said...

thanks so much for the Christmas wishes, Tori (from a real Texan!). LOL on the Johnson grass story! And I'm glad you won't be doing the pine needle crawl this year....

Mary, at least fifty dollars less per tree on average, I'd say!

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Bridget, I can't believe I'm going to say this, being Oklahoma Sooner Born and Sooner Bred

But....hook 'em horns!
Beat USC.

At 11:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a New Englander, I can't get over the distances in Texas whenever I visit my brother. He lives four hours outside San Antonio, and yet when I flew into SA, he offered to pick me up and drive me to his house, b/c, after all, it was ONLY four hours away. Here in New England, you can cross a dozen state lines within four hours!

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Flor Roeder said...

Bridget, I was born in Texas(Austin) as well as raised in Texas (Del Rio), but have literally travelled around the world (in a weeks time I might add, doing look-see trips to Japan and Scotland) and I have to say you are certainly living in one of the best places in the U.S. (I believe Austin was rated #1 place to live in 2004) if not the world. In addition to traveling to around the world, I have also lived in different parts of the world (Scotland & China) so I can say with experience that you certainly picked a good place which to settle down in!

At 7:59 PM, Blogger bridget said...

Jill, that's a magnificent concession from the Sooner Senorita! Thanks, I'll pass the mojo on =)

Anonymous, you are *so* right about the distances here! I wanted to fly to a conference in Dallas, and everyone thought I was nuts to fly to a place that was "only" four hours away.

Flor, excellent to know my gut feeling is backed up by some hard data. Rock on, Texas gal!

At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL Bridget. Don't forget that the Zilker Park "Christmas" tree is nothing but a metal pole with lights streaming down to the ground.


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