State Of The Hogs

This promises to be a special Christmas at the Henry house. Lots to be thankful for, and lots of excitement. There is also some anxiety and sadness.

I'll cover the anxiety and sadness later, but I'll give you a brief hint. This could be the last time Santa visits us.

I love Christmas. I don't do anything but smoke a turkey on Christmas Day. I've already purchased the turkey. It's thawed and ready to be cooked. I will rise early Saturday, stoke the smoker and have Tom Turkey ready to go at the time assigned. Everything else just kind of happens, like the rest of Christmas at our house. I don't have to do anything else.

There is the magnificent tree that just pops up out of nowhere around Thanksgiving. I'll come home from work one night and there it will be. Santa's little helpers must come to decorate it every year because I don't do anything or see it happen.

There is the annual Henry cookie bake, usually two to three days ahead of Christmas. Mass quantities of cookies appear out of nowhere. Again, I don't have to do anything. It just happens one day when I'm gone. Magically, tins and tins will materialize with tons of iced cookies in the shape of trees, Santas and even Razorbacks. Great stuff. All I have to do is eat them.

Then there is Christmas day. Santa always makes a grand visit, dropping mega sacks of packages for our daughters, Sarah and Becca. I don't get anything, but I understand that. My wife tells me you have to be good to get something from Santa. And, I know I haven't been good so it's OK nothing is under the tree for me.

I do remember the one year Santa left word that I had to put together a trike and a bike.

The trike was easy. I just had to put on the back wheels. The bike was OK, except I didn't follow instructions. The first page said, "Read entire instruction booklet, all 23 pages, before you begin." I didn't. I followed them step by step until the 23rd and final page where brake installation is detailed. At the bottom, it said, "If you plan to install training wheels, please install brakes where you see the asterisk on page two." So I had to take it apart and do it again. It took me three hours to put it together the first time, only two hours the second time. Santa didn't bring me anything that year. I know the reason. I said too many bad words on Christmas Eve.

I believe the real Santa was asleep by the time I finished putting that bike together. I did get it done before the girls awoke.

Oh, there have been times I've gotten the Christmas spirit. I think Angel Tree falls under that category.

Angel Tree is one of my favorite traditions. I love helping those that might not have Christmas otherwise. I gave to the Angel Tree account at The Morning News this year, where I headquarter these days. To me, that is what Christmas is really about, helping the less fortunate.

Our oldest daughter, a first-year teacher in Rogers, loves Angel Tree, too. She and her mother, the real Santa, took an Angel Tree card from her school to a local department store and bought many clothing items. A co-worker added some toys.

I liked that idea so much that I went to the Hog Heaven Store in Bud Walton Arena. A Razorback logo ski cap was purchased along with some other Hog items. When I told the store manager, Robert Mann, what I was doing, he bought some more items out of his pocket and we gave my daughter that bag of goodies for the young boy.

I've got to do more of that because Christmas is about done in our house. Well, it's not over. It's just going to be different. No more Santa.

Both daughters are moving out next week. Now that they have graduated college and have jobs in the real world, it's time. One will stay in Fayetteville, the other is off to Little Rock. Oh, they'll be back, but I figure Santa will deliver their goodies at their new home. I know he'll continue to visit them because they are always good.

Santa hasn't visited me for years, possibly because I'm never good. I don't think I'm actually bad, just quite a bit naughty.

Perhaps it's because I don't have the Christmas spirit around the house. As you know, I don't decorate the tree or bake cookies or help with any of that other cool stuff that seems to just happen around our house this time of year.

Heck, I didn't even help put together the lighted, grazing deer that now stand in our front yard. My wife put them together and that's outside stuff. I've always done the outside stuff. I'm sure Santa noticed.

Well, I've tried to put forth this pitiful message about how rough I've got it at my house, but I am guessing that no one really has bought it.

OK, now to the truth. I'm actually excited about this Christmas. I know it promises to be special and fun. I'm going to try to make it great for all of my girls at home.

I'm proud of them. They've been a real joy to watch develop into young women and I'll always cherish the many memories they've given us on Christmas mornings and throughout the rest of the year.

They are going to get onto me for writing all this "mushy" stuff this Christmas, but I don't care. I've already told them it's sad because it's going to be the last time Santa comes to our house. My daughters could give us some grandchildren some day and fix that. So the burden is on them to bring Santa back. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

CLAY HENRY IS THE PUBLISHER OF HAWGS ILLUSTRATED, A STEPHENS MEDIA GROUP PUBLICATION. HIS COLUMN APPEARS EACH FRIDAY. E-MAIL: CLAY@NWAONLINE.NET

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