It’s September, So It Must Be Mum Season?

Teddy BearsThere are some wonderful things about living in Texas that you cannot find in any other state in the Union. First there is that inherent Texas pride instilled in every Texan child from the time they are in diapers that you are indeed special simply because your first breath was taken in the Lone Star State. You will never see a bumper sticker that says, for example, “I’m not a Native Oklahoman, but I got here as fast as I could”.

Then there is that beloved Texas slang, which includes such phraseology as, “all hat and no cattle”, “this ain’t my first  rodeo”, and “nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers”. My dearly departed father-in-law, who was basically my dad for 20 years, had two: “crazy as I was that wet year” and “gonna see a man about a dawg”.

Texas can also lay claim to the homecoming mum. No, you will not see a senior cheerleader in Vermont sporting a giant silk chrysanthemum with lots and lots of ribbons and sparkly trims, a teddy bear, charms of all kinds, cow bells, whistles, and ribbons with their name and their dates’ written in silver or gold glitter hanging down, in some cases, past their knees. But by God, every high school girl in Texas deserves and needs to have one.

Homecoming mums are a Texas tradition that began in the 1920s. Fresh chrysanthemum flowers were originally used with a few ribbons and were given to boyfreinds and girlfriends. In the 1960s, homecoming mums began being made from silk flowers with additional items added to signify what activities the students were involved in. It’s grown somewhat from there, probably from our Texan nature to play “Can You Top This?”.

Somehow, Oak Ridge High School Homecoming is scheduled for the third weekend in September, which seems kinda early to me. Maybe it wasn’t hot enough in October, or maybe the increased risk of a September hurricane adds a little more excitement to the festivities. The Homecoming parade is this coming Wednesday, to be followed by the Homecoming game Friday and the Homecoming Dance on Saturday.

Aunt Rickie Rowe

Aunt Rickie Rowe

If you were out shopping this weekend, you could probably see tons of moms sorting though ribbons and bears and trinkets and glitter at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, preparing to strap on a glue gun and build a better, more spectacular mum than their creative counterparts.

Or you could simply do what I did, when my freshman son let me know he needed to get “something called a mum” for Homecoming. I went to Aunt Rickie’s Mums, over on Robinson Road between Hanna and Imperial Oaks, and searched out the guidance of someone who does this for a living.

Aunt Rickie is Rickie Rowe, who spends most of the year accumulating the ribbons and bears and trinkets she’ll need for the two-to-three month crunch time. She’s also quite helpful and patient with those of us who know nothing of mum couture. Ours would be the 73rd mum she created this year, and it’s early in mum season. Last year Mrs. Rowe built mums for kids from seven area high schools.

Each of her mums comes with one, two or three chrysanthemums, one teddy bear, two trinkets, one military ribbon, four garlands, and 20 ribbons. You can add to that and customize it with a wall chock full of trinkets, beads, charms, bells and glitter. Lots of glitter. Apparently glitter is a very important part of the homecoming mum tradition, because it’s pretty much available on everything.

Our whole mum shopping experience took about 20 minutes, and the knowledge that nobody in our house has to worry about anything more than picking up the finished product from Aunt Rickie’s is priceless.

Rickie Rowe can be reached at 281.415.0091. But hurry, she still has a lot of mums to make this week. Or you could head over to Hobby Lobby.

Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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