Homecoming in Texas
Let me set the scene…
I’m sitting in my living room on an unseasonably cold, mid-October day in Texas. There’s a fire in the fireplace, some hot chocolate simmering on the stove, and a half-eaten tray of snacks on the kitchen island. My dog looks exhausted and makes herself comfortable at my feet by the hearth. I’m relaxing, laptop in hand, ready to wind down for the night. But the room that was clean less than two hours ago is now littered with feathers. Yes, I said feathers.
If you’re not from Texas you’re probably thinking that something tragic has happened here. Pet parakeet escaped from his cage? Freak foul accident? Weird, eccentric aunt popped by for dinner?
But if you ARE from Texas, you know that the feathers, along with alllllll of the glitter that now adorns my floor can only mean one thing…
I feel fairly certain that the tradition of a homecoming football game is something that is shared by most schools across the US. It’s a time for alumni to return to their former high school or college campus for a given football game in the fall. There will be festivities surrounding the game ranging from parades to live concerts, depending on the school. It’s a chance for the community to come together to root for their team and celebrate their school’s heritage.
But this is Texas, and if we do something, we’re gonna go ahead and do it all the dang way, thank you very much. So we’ll see your parade, your concert, and your game day t-shirt. And we’ll raise you the homecoming mum and garter. There ain’t nothin that has swag like a Texas high school mum. We don’t play.
The “mum” tradition started back in the 1950s when ladies wore a simple chrysanthemum to the homecoming football game. It was pinned to their lapel and was a sensible and festive display of school spirit. Then somewhere along the way, someone started entering that sweet little chrysanthemum into beauty pageants. Then it met Honey Boo-Boo, started getting dental veneers and spray tans, and now she looks like this...
The garters (the small ones) are for the guys and the mums are for the girls. The kids wear them to school on game day, and then to the game that night, complete with cowbells, sequins, stuffed animals, bling, and even a few strands of LED lights. What started out as a corsage, morphed into these creations that require a neck strap and extra reinforcements to prevent actual injury to these sweet high school babies. It’s a whole thing. And we are HERE FOR IT IN TEXAS.
Tonight was my first homecoming experience as a parent when Collin and several of his friends all got together with their dates to exchange their mums and garters at our house. It was loud and entertaining, and over quicker than you can say “feather boa.” For someone who has always snickered at how overdone mums have become and tried to convey a I-don’t-really-care attitude, I sure was going to make sure the appropriate amount of flair made its way onto that mum, that it all coordinated well, that the appropriate activities and/or numbers were well-represented, and that the boa was just right.
So yes, it may be overdone. And yes, we take things to the extreme here. But here’s the bottom line: the kids and parents have a lot of fun. Our awesome football team, cheerleaders, drill team, and band get a lot of well-deserved attention. Kids get to ask someone to a dance and nice dinner, probably for the first time ever. They wear that mum or garter with pride! And I get to figure out how to clean feathers and glitter off of my floor...tomorrow.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. God bless Texas!