“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”

— Garrison Keillor

By Candace Cooksey Fulton — Brownwood Bulletin

The number of shopping days until Christmas has dwindled to the teens, but no pressure. Counting today, those “teensy” days include three weekends. If the jolly old elf in a red suit, can drive a flying sleigh and eight reindeer and deliver toys around the world in one night, shopping for a few finicky family members and friends can’t be that hard. Can it? Besides, there’s gift cards, and cash works too.

(Hint: If it’s too much of a chore, then somebody’s missing the point. Remember what Mama said, “If it’s not a joy to give, then it’s not really a gift.)

But, ahem, if you are out and about, shopping, please drop something fun in the cart for a less fortunate Brown County kid. The annual “Toys for Kids” drive is running short on donations and long on desires and can use a gift or two, and as for everything else, cash works too.

The Early Longhorns are headed for Waco, for their quarter final game against the Farmersville Farmers. Those boys have been plowing their way through, so, in the support of the last Brown County team left standing in the playoff run, think a good purple-and-gold “Go Longhorns” thought, and give a cheer if you’re able.

Santa loose on a caboose

Second Saturday of December and the Martin and Frances Lehnis Railroad museum will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. (It is, by the way, open throughout the holidays Tuesday through Saturday, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.)

But it’s only on Saturday, that Santa’s there, and available for photos, on the caboose. Prints are $3 each.

“For Christmas gifts, we have stocked our gift shop with small children’s gifts,” museum curator Mary Irving said. “We also have photographic prints and note cards, which can be used as Christmas cards, for sale. And we have now commissioner postcards, note cards and prints of a beautiful original painting of the Brownwood Depot and Harvey House.”

Admission to the museum is $3 for adults, $2.50 for senior citizens and $2 for children ages 5 to 12. Children under age 5 are admitted free.

Information about the museum is available by calling 643-6376.

Or, if you prefer ‘Reindogs’

Santa Claus and his “reindogs” will be at the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center, 3016 Milam Dr., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for pictures. For a $5 charge, pictures will be made of you, your pets and/or your children with Santa and his “reindogs.” All proceeds benefit the new building fund at the center.

Pizza and a Coke

Domino’s Pizza at 1012-B Coggin Ave. will offer a slice of pizza and a canned Coke to those who make a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A Coca-Cola trailer will be in place in front of the store from noon to 5 p.m. on the first three Saturdays in December.

Remember, ‘Toys for Kids’

The central Toys for Kids headquarters at 2325 Belle Plain is going full throttle.

Donations can be dropped off between 9.30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday at the headquarters. Red Man Lodge and several other buildings are on the property but the Toys for Kids headquarters has a sign on the front to designate it.

Parents may also sign up to receive toys those hours and those days at the same location. Though no financial need statement is required, parents signing up are asked to bring the child’s Social Security card and their own picture identification.

Financial donations can be mailed to Toys for Kids at P.O. Box 912; Brownwood, TX 76804.

Various and sundry

The Brownwood Amateur Radio Club’s Volunteer Examiner team hold test sessions at 10 a.m. at the Red Cross building, 600 E. Adams, Brownwood. Visit www.k5bwd.org for more information about club events. The parent group PRINT (a support group for parents of children with unique needs) will meet at 10 a.m. at the Dance Academy, 2810 Fourth St., Brownwood. For information, please call 203-0628, 647-8684 or 643-5686. The Brown County Museum of History, located downtown in the old jail across from the courthouse, is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday. For group tours and information call 641-1926.