Mum's the Word: Homecoming Season
It’s Friday night in Texas and you can tell it’s fall, y’all. There’s a crispness in the air (the temperature is under 100 degrees), the leaves are turning colors (at least a little) and high school football is in full swing (Go team!). The sounds of cheerleaders, referee whistles and band music fill the air. During the half-time performance, band moms gingerly clap their hands due to band-aid wrapped fingers, which can only mean one thing…Homecoming season -and all of its gloriously decorated mums -is here!
Last Friday, Sept. 20, Tropical Storm Imelda’s drenching rains ceased just in time for the St. Thomas High School’s Homecoming game, Presentation of the Royal Court of Honor and crowning of the 2019 Homecoming Queen to take place. St. Thomas High School fans celebrated after an exciting comeback game that STH won 28-21 versus the Stafford High School Spartans.
But let’s face it, even gorgeous girls in stunning evening gowns and ESPN highlight reel-worthy football players are no match for the biggest stars of Homecoming night: the Magnificent Mums.
Most people probably don’t know the true story of a typical mum’s humble beginnings as a simple round piece of cardboard. The tears and sweat of moving up the ranks of ribbon, glitter and hot glue guns all the while being lovingly mentored by their secret weapon…the Mum Mom Mafia.
The Music Guild of St. Thomas High School has a long-standing tradition of creating and selling Homecoming mums as a fundraiser to purchase new instruments, equipment, uniform pieces and other important items for band and choir. Every year, the Guild creates and sells around 300 masterpieces, 150 girl mums and 150 mum armbands. Yes, the boys wear armband mums now. Try to keep up, “Went to a Texas high school before 2000” parents! For those parents that didn’t grow up in Texas, no, you do not take your date a potted chrysanthemum (as one confused grew-up-in-Virginia-freshman-mom thought). Bless your heart and, as soon as possible, go find a friend with a genuine Texas accent to help you navigate Homecoming mums!
Renee Lauckner, STH Music Guild President, shares, “Mums are a year-round production for us. We actually will begin in November working on cutting ribbons, making mum backs and making braids.Then in February, we hold Saturday workshops to bring all those elements together to create the ‘naked’ mums.Then we take a bit of a break until August (July if it’s an early HoCo) when we begin decorating. While we all love creating these gems, we truly love our support group. Moms who have lived through the freshman year are there for freshman moms who are still wondering what they have gotten themselves into.”
Mum-making volunteers are from St. Thomas and also Incarnate Word Academy since both the band and choir are lucky enough to have female members from IWA.
Proud Band Mom, Rebecca Jones, shared her mum “recipe.” Ingredients include: Backers, ribbons, staples, more ribbons of varying sizes and types, mum, hot glue, more ribbons, trinkets, more ribbons, braids, more ribbons, bells, more ribbons, staples, a new stapler because the last one has jammed, backer, hot glue, bling, hot glue, bling, hot glue, bling, hot glue. Repeat as needed until you reach desired amount of “flair.”
A finished mum will elicit “oohs and ahs” and have sufficient fullness and glitter to be easily spotted. Attach date’s personalized ribbon and hope for a happy ending.
Warning: Glitter will follow you all the days of your life. It will get on you, on the floor, on the stairs, in your car, on your cell phone, in your purse. Months later you will continue to be delighted by glitter.
All the mum moms agreed: “Yes, we have many glue gun incidents and our best friend is first aid burn gel.”
The week of the Homecoming game, St. Thomas boys come to the band hall after school to walk through racks of hundreds of hanging mums. When asked how long it takes them to find the perfect mum, one band mom shared, “Very few boys agonize over the choices. They use the typical male approach of looking at about three and deciding quickly.”
The mum shoppers leave with their mum on a hanger in a long clear plastic bag with the instructions to keep them hanging and covered until they give it to their date.
Belinda Schlack has older boys and was a proud 2012-2016 STH Mum Mom where her specialty was quality control supervisor. “I made sure the mums were glued together properly, basically built them and trimmed them etc. We lived at STH those 4 years, I found out all the good scoop of what was going on at the school and made great friends for a lifetime.”
Belinda also shared, “The boys don’t know how much work and love is put into those mums. The mum-making moms had a cow one year when a freshman boy picked up his mum and then shoved it into his backpack. We were sure it must have been all bent to heck when he took it out to give to his date!”
Belinda is also the ghostwriter of the legendary St. Thomas Mom’s Group Homecoming 101 cheat sheet, which she created in 2016 to the relief of confused freshmen parents everywhere.
It includes hot tips like: How does my son get a date?
The students begin looking for dates for Homecoming at the very first home football game. They hang out underneath the bleachers at the stadium near the concession stand talking and introducing each other to girls. Even a shy student can get a date. You will be surprised!
So if you find yourself lucky enough to be at a high school homecoming game this fall, while you’re soaking in all the stunning details, glorious creativity and “over-the-top-ness” in the sea of miniature-cowbell-ringing mums, remember to take time to notice those less fortunate in our community, those with band-aids on their fingers. Give them a smile and remind them that you’ll never forget the ways that they have sacrificed for the team and their fans.
Thank you, mum-makers, from the bottom of our now-covered-in glitter hearts.
Happy Homecoming season!
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