Taking down the 2007 calendar and putting up a new 2008 prompts one to reflect on the year that has passed.
Is it just me or do the years seem to move by quicker as you get older? As a kid, it felt like an eternity had passed before another Christmas would arrive. Now, the holiday season sneaks up on me faster and faster with each passing year. Before I know it, I only have four or five days left to get my Christmas list completed. But the fact Christmas sneaks up on me can't be blamed on a lack of public awareness about the holiday season.
In this day and age, we are constantly bombarded with holiday season advertisements and promotions activities. And the bombardment appears to start earlier and earlier each year. I remember going into Wal-Mart to pick up a few lawn care items a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. Most of the Gardening Center had been filled with Christmas decoration items.
Boy, how we Americans can over-do a good thing. That made me stop and wonder what was going to be the most annoying part of the fall season. This year, for me, it is a tie. Tied for first in my "most annoying category" are the mass-merchandisers that jumped from promoting Halloween decorations directly to promoting Christmas decorations and gift buying.
Those retailers are in a dead heat with the folks responsible for extending the U.S. presidential campaign's season into a 16-month long media circus. If it came to a public vote to have 10 more months of any season, football and hunting seasons would be hands down winners over lengthening any type of political campaign season.
Now, don't get me wrong Christmas has always been a very special time of year for me, but I don't enjoy the commercialization that has been spiraling out of control for the past couple of decades. It now appears that what the American consumers spend during the holidays is an "economic indicator." If we don't exceed retailer's expectations it is a sign of a looming recession.
If consumers spend more than expected it is viewed as adding debt load that will prolong the credit crunch keeping consumers from qualifying for a new home loan or buying a new car.
The holiday season should not be about retail sale numbers and consumer spending trends. There is truly a reason for the season. It should be about peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind.
Well, enough about the commercialization of the Christmas holiday. I was also reminded when putting up a new calendar that 100 years ago the settlement of South Texas was starting to take shape. Construction of the major north to south railroad lines was completed. Rights of way donated by the major landowners to entice railway transportation into the area provided that a number of town sites were being developed. They would also serve as watering sources for the steam locomotives and provide depots for rail shipping and passenger transportation.
Robstown is at the site of the crossing of two rail lines. It's beginning as a town dates back to 1907, with 2007 marking its centennial year and much has changed during the past century. Originally, those rail lines were essential to the ranching industry.
Settlements and fencing of the once open range between the northern rail heads had prevented cattle drives from occurring and limiting access of South Texas cattle to their traditional markets. The railroads were viewed as a necessary link to get their product to the market place.
But the rail lines needed more potential business than seasonal cattle shipments to justify the cost of operating rail service into the region.
The compromise that was largely responsible for constructing these rail lines involved large ranchers offering to sell some of their land holdings adjacent to town sites to be sub-divided into farms. These farmers would in turn generate more diversified cargo shipments out of the area and require more shipment of equipment and supplies into the area.
During the past 100 years, the agricultural economy of the region has experienced its share of changes as well. Ranching is still important. But today South Texas has fewer cattle than at any time during the past century. Today, no cattle are shipped by rail. Only a modest amount of cotton in the area are shipped by rail.
In the 1930s Robstown was a major shipping site for vegetable production and most of that production was shipped by rail. That industry moved south to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in the 1940s and 50s. Since that time more grain is shipped by rail than any other commodity.
Robstown continues to be deeply rooted in agriculture. Today, travels are welcomed to that community with attractive signs posted at the city limits reminding travelers that it is the home of the finest county Junior Livestock Show in the state.