By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS
The holiday countdown is on. Not for the lighting of New Mexico’s tree that made it to Washington, D.C. (that already happened). Not for the number of hours left before those pesky New Year’s resolutions kick in. But for the number of shopping days until Christmas.
Some folks may already have things bought – and even wrapped – and stashed away in the back of their workplace. But others will inevitably wait for the last-minute scramble.
“We don’t see a rush until a few days before Christmas,” said Betty Callens, who owns Route 66’s Tee Pee Curios with her husband Mike Callens. “Then the people who can’t get out of town to buy a gift come here.”
But one needn’t travel a single step out of Tucumcari to find some unusual gifts, as evidenced below.
The alien skull – either exclusively imported from Roswell, or hand culled with a specially-conditioned alien skull metal detector, explanations offered from Betty or Mike Callens, respectively, these creepy creatures wait on the shelf to get put under the tree.
What: Alien skull. Where: Tee Pee Curios, 924 E. Route 66, 461-3773. How much: $23.89.
The Last Supper longbox – perfect for storing your paintbrushes, pencils or just about anything one would normally put in a longbox, said Mike Callens – comes complete with a rendition of DaVinci’s Last Supper gracing the cover. He added many holidays would not be the same without one.
What: Last Supper longbox. Where: Tee Pee Curios. How much: $9.85.
Couples-in-love figurines – swooning couples in love, wearing the garb of a bride and groom, frolic in a highly detailed setting. They would perhaps rival Hummels save for the catch – they are skeletons. Each comes complete with either a rock or a gravestone on the base that proclaims “Love Never Dies.”
What: Couples-in-love skeleton figurines. Where: Tee Pee Curios. How much: $12.95.
Peruvian masks – if one finds skeletons in love attractive, one would also find joy with the wooden masks on the wall of Route 66’s Coyote Moon. Two of colorful Peruvian descent join one of African origin in an eye-catching layout. All three would make any wall scream with uniqueness.
What: Wooden masks. Where: Coyote Moon Designs, 514 W. Route 66, 461-7922. How much: $30-$55.
The goat hide lamp – for a truly unique way to light one’s fire, or at least one’s light bulb, why not try a lamp with a shade made entirely of goat hide. Unlike some that come with goat hair still attached, the smooth lamp offered at Coyote Moon is devoid of hair clumps, hand tooled with small designs and dyed dark red.
What: Authentic Moroccan goat hide lamp fixture. Where: Coyote Moon. How much: $40.
The Mexican sombrero – perfect for those holiday parties in which the lamp shades are either too expensive to wear or made of Moroccan goat hide, Coyote Moon has a single authentic and imported sombrero left in stock, crafted of a field of black velvet and adorned with glitzy silver design and trim.
What: Black velvet sombrero. Where: Coyote Moon. How much: $40.
The cross with bottle caps stuck to it – imported from Mexico and featuring an array of one’s favorite saints stuck under melted glass which is then stuck atop bottle caps and fastened to a wooden cross.
What: Bottle cap cross. Where: Coyote Moon. How much: $26 and up.
Birds on a string – a symbol of friendship and happiness, according Yvonne Braziel, who owns the Del’s gift shop where the birds are sold, these things sell so hot all year they literally fly out the door. A long line of colorful feathered friends crafted out of fabric and attached to a string with a bell on the end, Braziel said they also make colorful curtain if one amasses enough of them and may even work instead of hippie beads in a doorway.
What: Birds on a string. Where: Del’s gift shop, 1202 E. Route 66, 461-1740. How much: $6.99.
The lizards that grow – great for stocking stuffers, Braziel said these 3-inch colorful lizards, when put in water, really do grow 600 times their size, just like the package says. “We’ve had employees who got them come to me and say, ‘I need a bigger bowl to put them in!’ I kid you not, they get to be about a foot long.”
What: the growing lizards. Where: Del’s gift shop. How much: $1.59
Stocking stuffers – an array of smaller gifts graced all three shops, some of the most interesting including a bag of plastic flies at Tee Pee Curios for 99 cents, small boxes of six teeny Guatemalan worry dolls that take away troubles at Tee Pee Curios for $1.59 and a three-pack of Devil Duckies, a variation of the standard yellow used by Sesame Street’s Ernie, at Curios for $4.99. “I gave them to Mesalands for a toys for kids donation once,” said Mike Callens. “Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.”
Curious knickknacks as well as sterling silver and other jewelry were also found at all three locations, the former starting at $3.99 and the latter at $5 and up.