Recollections of who did something truly outstanding, who did something we hope to forget in a decade or two, and a few things nobody quite understands were verbally batted around the kitchen table Sunday.

It’s the place where most decisions are made – a gathering spot turned unofficial board room whenever business is to be discussed whether it’s of life-changing concern or just main course of the next family feed.

Each person offers a different memory, often of the same event, as family lore works its way toward legend – or at least that’s the way the youngest made it sound.

Writing a Christmas letter was the agenda item, an issue which is supposed to capture those poignant moments of 2017 and guffaw inspiring gaffes before becoming part of recorded family history – the Crabtree Chronicles in this particular case.

“So are we going to write about who almost died?” my 16-year-old niece asks quickly earning rolled eyes and an exasperated sigh from her grandmother.

“How about we find some of the good things to write about,” her grandmother suggests offering one of those ice bullet stares I believe is somehow genetically triggered in anyone who is or has been a parent. The rest of us just can’t seem to get that “Momma ain’t happy” look right.

My niece, however, is infected by the honesty gene and hasn’t yet learned the concept of selective story telling.

She offers a hands raised in a big W shrug, looks up and says, “Well, I did say almost.”

Poor child, she’s a true product of the Crabtree world.

In our realm, it generally doesn’t take much effort to recall the last time some family member had a near death experience from a health issue, random falling object, jumping away from a speeding car coming way too close to the path, moving through an intersection less than five minutes before a massive wreck or any you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-that-didn’t-really-happen moment.

We’re Crabtrees. Stuff happens.

Luckily, Crabtrees tend to bounce remarkably well.

Yet like so many folks in the Gulf Coast, our family lives have been divided into three worlds – before, during and after the storm.

You don’t have to ask what storm, of course. Horrible Harvey won’t be forgotten for a very long time.

Round the table, it brings the chatter to a stop.

Before The Storm?

Stuff happened right?


You know your life has changed when it’s a struggle to attach events to 2017 prior to late August. Weren’t all those other things in 2016?

The hurricane just seems to have had that effect on so many of us – even the lucky ones who were spared the water’s wrath like yours truly living here in El Campo.

The changes are more dramatic for my niece – her whole world vanished with a several foot high wave of water overflowing a Houston reservoir. Her family lost just about everything they didn’t take with them for the “we will be gone just a day or two” boat evacuation and will never return to the place they called home Before The Storm.

She lives with her grandparents now as her parents try to establish a new place to live, one that maybe she’ll get to see before it becomes her new forever – or maybe not.

Plans keep changing After The Storm and keeping track of who’s going to be where and when that will happen seems rather pointless. Once again the chatter dies down.

“But hey, at least we’ll always have the time the Christmas display attacked,” she points out.

We’re Crabtrees. Stuff happens. We bounce.

– Shannon Crabtree is editor & publisher of the El Campo Leader-News.

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