This holiday story belongs to yours truly, and it is less of a personal tradition than it is a story of a time honored ritual that I walked into, unknowingly, when I took up a job at the fine dining establishment known as Hillbilly Junction.
I worked as a server at Hillbilly Junction, a combination gas station, gift shop, banquet hall, buffet, steak house, and eatery when I lived in Willow Springs, Missouri. It was a mystifying place and a rather magical time in my life. A time of change, a time of reflection, a time of half off bacon cheeseburgers during any evening shift.
Yeah, that’s me rocking a Hillbilly Junction apron. Hillbillies Holla!
But never was Hillbilly Junction more entertaining than at Christmastime. Right after Thanksgiving, Jani, the manager, would pull out boxes upon boxes from the storage/liquor closet and open them with care.
Dust, and tiny bits of yellowed Scotch tape filled the backroom like an allergen blizzard as Jani went through each box gingerly removing the holiday decorations. There really was a feeling of joy and astonishment as the restaurant, usually decorated in a “Tex-Mex” style, was transformed into a winter wonderland (mostly by putting hats and wreaths atop the wild game on display throughout the place.)
This is my first Christmas in Massachusetts, and I doubt that I will find any Christmas taxidermy to make me feel at home; but a girl can hope.
Nothing says fine dining like taxidermed animals. Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like covering those animals with poinsettias.
If you find yourself in Willow Springs, Missouri this holiday season, or at any point in your lifetime, be sure to stop by Hillbilly Junction; home of the John Wayne steak and a heck of a great staff.