Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Texas, My Texas

Magnet # 129: Texas Cowboy

Material: Resin

Purchased By: Grandma

This is the anniversary of the day in 1845 when Texas finally joined the United States after years of shifting from one ruling power to another before finally fighting to become independent. Maybe I'm biased, but after studying up on so many accounts of far less dramatic transitions to statehood, I have to say Texas has one of the most interesting pre-statehood histories our nation has to offer. Of course, some of the original 13 might give it a run for its money - but just some.

Oddly enough, for some time, the Europeans ignored the area that would one day become the Lone Star State. The French landed in the area by mistake, and were the first to establish a settlement there. However, it didn't last long, and soon the Spanish began establishing missions there to challenge the French's claim to the land, eventually founding San Antonio, its first civilian settlement in the area. The French occupied nearby Louisiana, and when they sold all of their settlements to the United States, many believed that Texas was included in the bargain. But Spain did not agree with this belief, and a boundary was soon set at the Sabine River, which still divides parts of the two states. This didn't stop Americans from settling the area, and when Mexico finally gained its freedom from Spain, taking Texas with it, and for a time, they encouraged Europeans and Americans to settle the area. However, when the United States persistently attempted to purchase Texas and many settlers began to show blatant disregard for Mexican law, particularly by owning slaves, the Mexicans cut off immigration into the area. Soon, angry American settlers were fighting back in a series of conflicts that included the Battle of the Alamo and eventual Texan victory at the Battle of San Jacinto. During these conflicts, the Republic of Texas was formed. Some Texans wanted to remain independent, and even claim more land as far west as the Pacific Ocean, but the more practical ones, led by Sam Houston, realized that their best choice to remain free was to join with the United States. Eventually, they prevailed and Texas became the 28th state.

I must admit, I missed not going home to Texas this Christmas as we do most years. It's always fun getting to see my family there, and just experiencing the frenetic energy of the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. There's just more of everything there - shops, traffic, people, and so on - and quite a lot of it is bigger than I'm used to seeing. Even stores I have at home, like Jo-Ann's crafts and Best Buy, can have much bigger stores here, even some that are two stories, and are filled with a much better selection than I'd usually get to see. And then there are the shops that I don't have back home, like specialty shops for crafts and comics, and eateries like La Madeline's Bakery and the Spaghetti Warehouse, a restaurant my family has been going to for generations. What can I say, Christmas is just not the same for me if it's not spent in Texas. But there was one event we missed out on this year that I don't mind having avoided. For the first time in at least over a hundred years, it snowed in Dallas on Christmas Eve, covering the ground with as much as three inches. It's odd that the one year we weren't there was the year it snowed, but I've never been a big fan of the white stuff outside of photos and paintings. And considering it - and the up to 50 mile gusts of wind that accompanied it - caused plenty of automobile accidents in the metropolitan area, perhaps one that was even fatal, I'm kind of glad we were safely absent from the area. From what my relatives said, most of it turned to slush by noon Christmas, and only one of them seemed to be happy about the snowfall. Well, I don't think it'll happen on our next trip home to Texas for Christmas, so I'm glad that those who wanted some snow, got it. And I look forward to another trip home to this state that means so much to me, hopefully one in the coming year, for Christmas.

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