After we rolled into the sleepy little town of Sweetwater, Texas, from New Mexico, the natives looked happy to see us, which was a surprise. Pretty soon after our wind-driven trip, we were lassoed by matrons wanting to use us for their annual Tumbleweed Snowmen displays. Shorty, my sidekick, was placed atop Betsy, my medium-size girlfriend of many miles. I was the base of this new operation, I guess because I am quite rotund. I didn’t mind that Betsy was placed on top of me, but we were taken aback when the woman in charge of our transformation sewed us together with what she called dental floss. It was kinda fun because the floss was soft and definitely kept us from topplin’ over in the mild wind. Also, it tickled us a bit as she sewed. Finally, Shorty was stitched atop Betsy. We overheard workers say we made an adorable snowman.
We were guffawin’ among ourselves when the unexpected Stage Two of our transformation began. It was not very pleasant. Our lady whistled for help and a guy with a spray paint gun arrived pronto and began paintin’ us white. That was a shock, but what came next was worse. Another woman with a can of glitter climbed onto a ladder and began sprinkling sparkly stuff all over us. She giggled as she worked and kept hollerin’ to the other workers for advice on where our “bald spots” were. I don’t know what she meant ‘cause we are hairless, but I suppose she meant there was less glitter than she desired in some spots. When we sparkled plenty enough to suit her, she moved to the next stack of our friends who were also undergoin’ similar transformations. I felt like a duded up sissy.
As soon as our paint and glitter dried enough to pass inspection, we were gently lifted onto a cattle car. Since we were prettied up earliest, we were carried to the front of the transport. We talked among ourselves until more Tumbleweed Snowmen were added. After the back gate of the wagon clanged shut a tractor pulled us toward town.
As we circled the courthouse square I spotted the Texas Theatre right next to J.C. Penney’s. I got my hopes up that we would be used to decorate the downtown area, but our wagon kept movin’ toward the suburbs. Some streets were long and windin’. At our first stop, our fella snowmen were unloaded into yards with more dirt than grass. They were staked to the ground so they couldn’t move around. At some homes, people rushed out to add cowboy hats, bandanas and boots to the ‘weeds. Aprons were put on the shorter members of a couple to make them look like women. Short stacks were dressed like kids. I wondered if the homeowners had the same number of snow people to populate their front yards as they had family members. Each group was different. I enjoyed watchin’ our travelin’ buddies come to life in a new way.
All the unloadin’ took what seemed like a long time. When our turn came, we were lifted out in front of a church. The choir director was placin’ us like a choir of carolers. Shorty, Betsy and I were decked out with a top hat, long scarf and English riding boots. I have to say we looked purdy swell. Other ‘weeds were similarly dressed and grouped around us. Pieces of coal were glued onto Shorty to act as eyes and a round mouth so he could carol. Betsy had buttons added to her, also made of coal. Mesquite twig arms were also attached. The final touch was a make-believe songbook with Christmas carol titles on the pages which was glued to her new hands.
The stacked ‘weed trio next to us wore a different hat with feathers which looked old-fashioned. A skirt was added too. I have to say the “girl” looked purdy cute. She also held a songbook in her twig hands. Several more carolers were assembled nearby then a tape recorder was placed behind us. The choir director punched some buttons and his choir’s rendition of lovely carols filled the air. The final touch was the spotlights placed to bathe us in light. They certainly emphasized our glitter. The music and lights stayed on for a few hours then the choir director came back to turn both off for the night. As he departed he said,
“Thanks, y’all, for being our carolers this year. We appreciate your blowin’ into town to add to our Christmas celebration. You will make our townspeople happy and I hope you will attract more people to our church, we need ‘em. We can never have too many folks fillin’ the pews. God bless you.”
After he departed, we hummed some of the carols. We looked up at the star-filled night sky and thanked our Creator for sending us to this little town and to this church. We were formerly just ordinary tumblin’ tumbleweeds, just takin’ it easy out in the desert, never knowin’ from one day to the next where the winds would blow us. Now, here we are anchored down, dressed up and lookin’ mighty fine. Best of all, we now have a purpose. Most in our group were happy about this chance to do somethin’ special in our corner of the world.
After we sang all the carols we could remember, Shorty said, “Big’un, how about we sing our theme song, Driftin’ Along with the Tumble Weeds, while the townspeople are sleepin’.”
I wished for a harmonica, but we sounded good anyway, anchored like that. One guy nearby had a deep bass voice, while another had an Irish tenor. A gal pal sounded out with her angelic soprano and Betsy tuned up and sang like my favorite, an alto. I had no idea there was so much talent in our group. Soon, coyotes crept into town and joined in with us. It sounded splendid. Some dogs sang too, from their fenced yards. Even a few cats added their meows. We sure made a joyful noise, just like the Good Book says to do.