Thanks for checking in on your Christmas Eve morning! Back to the friendly confines of the Bar None after several days at the Original in Indiahoma, Oklahoma. Finding my reason for the season.
My wish for everyone this year is to spend it with your family. And if none are around or involved, you’re welcome out to the ranch for a run and brunch.
It is the gift I received and want to share with all.
The Lindgrens. Sister Cindy and dad Bill join me on the couch, brother Jim behind. Dad will be 83 in two weeks. Jim turns 56 today, I’m 57, Cindy’s 58. Mom, rest and bless her soul for these three years now, had us all before the age of 20. Dad built this house, made the cabinets, electrical, plumbing, everything, at age 65. I didn’t get a lick of his craftsmanship. Or did I?
The Greatest Gift then, for me, is that our family was able to gather again.
This is my family. No pretensions of perfection or airs of superiority. A Real Family. Hard scrabble, lower worked up to middle class. Real People with Real Issues. And a Real Love forged by our years, another thing that I wish for you all. Longevity.
Only the third time I’ve seen Jim in the last 30 years. He dropped out of high school as a junior and went to the Southwest. Spending his life in the great outdoors, working hard, panning for gold, and prepping. Cindy, a recovering addict who finally seems to have her life in order. Pestered with the same mental illness that has run roughshod over generations of women on my mother’s side. Mom was among many things, paranoid and agoraphobic, didn’t leave the small house for the last 10 years of her life. Her family history reads like a textbook.
Real Man, Real Cowboy. Dad has taught himself leather craftsmanship. He also hand makes these knives from antler, roots, wood, brass and old concrete saw blades. Three days for each knife, start to finish. And as many for the case. Each kid and grandkid getting one this Christmas. Treasures.
He’s stretching his horizons by tooling holsters and belts too. He’s also working on a pair of rattlesnake chaps and talks of a saddle soon. His tack room an old camper, well furnished. He talked non stop for three days, tales of times gone by, to be passed through our generations.
Dad’s working life was as a laborer and superintendent in the construction trades. I’ve seen his hands mangled, crushed, beaten, broken and bloodied. Look at his gnarled digits and you could never imagine that he is able to execute such intricate and complex work with them.
But maybe the greatest joy I had was to hear him speak of JoAnn, 15 years his junior, dancing and courting, buying flowers and speaking of love.
May your hearts be lifted and joyous as you gather with your own families. I’m still planning on crafting a Christmas Classic for tonight so don’t forget to set me out a plate and a glass!