Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nothing Says Christmas Like Rifle Fire

Part of the fun in having children is resurrecting Christmas traditions from your childhood.  Loading up the kids and driving random logging roads in search of a Christmas tree, NOT opening gifts until Christmas morning, mistletoe belt buckles, these are the traditions that Regina and I grew up with, or at least we agree on (okay, maybe I made up the belt buckle one, but it ought to be everyone's tradition).  Part of the fun of Christmas is creating new traditions with your kids.  After we had kids,  we started going to the Ft. Jones Christmas Parade and the Callahan Christmas, and they've become part of our Christmas routine.  Also, part of the fun of having children is you can blame your farts on them, but that's neither Christmas-y nor relevant.

A few years ago we started going to the Ft. Jones Christmas Parade because Dylan was in it.  I had no idea what a big deal it was.  People pack the sidewalks and lately I've heard stories about guys riding their horses into the bar after the parade and fistfights.  Ah, Christmas.  I've really only been to the elementary school's Halloween parade, which is fifteen minutes of cuteness, or the rodeo parade, which mainly is a lot of people on horseback.  The Christmas parade has everything.  From bagpipers to backcountry horsemen, from renaissance nerds to Harley badasses.

My favorite entry is the Mountain Men.  I think I include them every year in my Christmas blog, and they deserve the attention.  They seem to be a loosely formed group of men and women who dress in pelts and wear moccasins.  They pack black-powder rifles and fire them off as they walk down the parade route.  The gunfire gets pretty loud and all of the mounted entries have to follow them, or there would be a lot of runaway horses and general carnage.  It's hilarious (to me) and terrifying (to Grady).  For some reason, watching the kids flinch every four seconds when a rifle goes off has become my favorite Christmas tradition.

In the 90s, Mike Tyson hired a guy, Crocodile, as a hype-man.  He'd walk next to Mike and motivate him by yelling odd phrases like, "Guerrilla warfare!" and, "Bring the noise!"  Last night, at Callahan Christmas, I was Crocodile and Grady was Mike Tyson.  I wanted Grady to get over his Santa-terrors and so I talked up the big guy.  I started up the hype machine right after dinner.  "Santa's coming, buddy, are you ready?  Yeah, you're ready, he's nice.  He has presents.  Let's get ready to rumble."  Sometimes I say the wrong thing.  Grady's spent the last three Christmases looking at St. Nick like he was John Wayne Gacy in a Santa suit.  No way, no how was he going near that red-clad freak.  But this year, my Crocodile impression worked and pretty soon Grady was sitting on Santa's lap and shaking his hand like a gentleman.  We couldn't believe it.

So, while most kids have sugar-plum fairies dancing in their heads around Christmas time, ours hear the sharp crack of rifle fire and the soothing shouts of, "It's fight time!" in their ears and can only dream of Christmas.

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