As with every Christmas, I often ponder on what items to buy for friends and family – especially those that already “have everything.”

As with every Christmas, I often ponder on what items to buy for friends and family – especially those that already “have everything.” I’m not big on buying the impulse items just to say I have a gift for someone. Unlike the “finger drums” that I got as a gift at my company party (they just play electronic drum noises at random times), wasting money on those type of gifts just isn’t my style. As a big gift for the kids, this year I planned on two things. One came from the store – a trampoline. The other was a tire swing that I’d make (and over-engineer) myself. 

The trampoline came home from the store neatly wrapped. My dad and my grandpa came over to help Christmas Eve day (when it was COLD) and with two hours of teamwork and head scratching (and a little bit of luck), it went together and was ready to go! I made a couple of “test” bounces myself and just knew it was going to be the hit of Christmas.
Next came the two tire swings. As a semi-hoarder (I learned it from my grandpa Don), I had four tires in the barn from a car I’d owned 10-plus years ago. Those would be my starting point. I then went to Lowe’s for some old-fashioned manila rope (the kind that smells like baling twine and hurts your hands to hold). By overthinking the design and the maximum load the rope would take, I left not only with rope but with six foot of chain and two quick-links. This was turning into a bigger project than the trampoline!

Then came the made-for-TV moment when the ladder I had wasn’t tall enough to reach the tree limb (I swear that tree grew five feet overnight). The solution was simple – just pull the truck under the tree and put the ladder in the bed of the truck. Well, it worked, but the whole time I was up in the air, I kept looking at that trampoline thinking “all of this work for tire swings that they won’t even use!”

After some final adjustments with the rope, both swings were operational.  As with the trampoline, I took a couple of “test” swings to make sure nothing catastrophic would happen. All the knots held. The chain didn’t slip. My work was done for the day.

The next afternoon, I took the girls over to see their “Santa” gifts. Knowing three kids and an adult on a trampoline was a guarantee of someone going to the ER, I stayed in the truck to “watch” them jump and entertain themselves. As I predicted, they ran right past the tire swings and went to jumping. “Oh well” I thought. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

But to my surprise, about two minutes into trampoline time, one decided to swing instead. Then another. Then another. All of a sudden, the problem went from no one using them to three of them fighting to see which two would swing first. For the next hour, I was pushing kids, mediating whose turn was next, and casting glances at an empty trampoline. Boy was I surprised.

In the end, it worked out great. Both gifts were a hit and another successful Christmas was in the books. But I am still surprised by how something so simple like a tire swing turned out to be so much fun – especially when a trampoline was in the mix. I guess some things just pass the test of time.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. Thanks to the snow plow crews that were on standby – even though you weren’t needed. Congrats to Lt. Kennedy and Sgt. Humphries on their promotion with the Neosho PD. Both are well deserved! 2012 was a great year for our town. 2013 should be even better!

Until next time: stay the course, keep the faith, may God bless Neosho and Happy New Year!

Richard Davidson is mayor of Neosho.