Mum’s the word this Homecoming Weekend

By KATE LUDLOW

Tina’s Cottage has been a blur of purple and gold, ribbons and bows, as Homecoming weekend approaches.

Store owner Tina Holbein has been hard at work making approximately 300 mums to be delivered to all campuses in Liberty Hill Independent School District.

A longtime Texas tradition, fresh chrysanthemums were given to young ladies from suitors – young men who were escorting them to the homecoming dance.

These days, a simple flower won’t suffice.

“We get all kinds of requests,” says Mrs. Holbein who, along with her mother, Billie Sumter, makes all the mums the store sells.

The mums feature an array of braided ribbons, cowbells, disco balls, and trinkets relevant to each child’s interest, or for their love of their school. In addition to mums, they also make headbands, bracelets, and rings, all with mini versions of mums on them.

Guys can show their Homecoming pride with a mum as well – traditionally a smaller mum placed on a garter that is worn on the upper arm.

These days, mums are bought not only by potential suitors, but my moms and dads, grandparents and friends. Orders are placed, and the mums will be delivered to students at the school on the day of the big game Friday, Sept. 14.

“Traditionally, senior students wear all white mums. That’s not really big here. So, they come in all colors,” says Mrs. Holbein, adding that zebra and other animal prints are this year’s biggest trends. The majority of the mums are purple and gold, but some custom orders this year included turquoise and silver, hot pink and black, all trimmed with boa feathers, bling and other bits.

As with most things in Texas, the bigger the better, and bigger mums are causing more and more of a stir.

“At some schools, they’re so big, they have to go around the neck. We haven’t had those mums yet, but last year, I did one that had lights, and it went down to a second mum on the hip, and then hit the floor from there. This year, a sixth-grader is getting the biggest mum we’re making,” says Mrs. Holbein.

“They’re a big tradition. They’re saved for years,” said Mrs. Holbein.

Janice Cantwell, Tina’s Cottage “Expert of the Month” recently took mum preservation to a new level.

“She took all the special ribbons off of all of her old mums, from years back, and made them into a new mum,” says Mrs. Holbein. “That was neat.”

Sometimes, even a mum mistake can become a tradition.

“We have never had an issue with lost orders, except for one time. There was a mix up with the school, we’re still not sure what happened, but three were lost. One of the kids, Ben, came in, and on the spot, a new one was made for him. It was a bit smaller than the normal ones, so we called it the Ben Mum. For a long time, it was on the order form. This year, someone was taking an order, and the name said Ben, so I asked if it was the same kid. I had to tell everyone the story of the Ben Mum,” says Mrs. Holbein.

A portion of the proceeds from every mum Tina’s Cottage sells goes directly back to the school as part of the Ag Department Scholarship Fundraiser. The last few years, Mrs. Holbein has been able to present the school with a $500 check as the result of her mum sales.