Many curious (okay, a few curious) friends have asked about the significance of Bison to our family. I've decided to share the story with you. This is a safely guarded family secret and when you hear about it, it will be significantly anticlimactic for you because:
1. You weren't there.
2. We're total dorks.
3. It's really not a safely guarded family secret, nor that big of deal!
About six or seven years ago (I honestly can't remember), our family and our bestie family went camping to Yellowstone National Park. It was cold, it was rainy, it was AWESOME. We truly had such a good time! Lots of memories from that trip...
Anyway, we had five kids at the time and they had five kids at the time and we looked pretty awesome together. People would count our kids as we hiked around (they always do! Especially now that we both have 7 kids, each!). One day, it was stormy and rainy, and instead of going to hang out at the campsite, we went to one of the Visitor's Centers to watch a movie about Yellowstone. We were early, and as the kiddos got settled, Brandon said, "Okay, kids! As we're watching the film, whenever you see a Bison on the screen, yell out really loudly, 'BISON!' okay?" The kids giggled and said they would.
More people came into theater and it filled up pretty quickly. The movie started and about 3 minutes into it, a Bison was shown. All the kids looked at each other nervously, and Brandon took the reins --he shouted, "Bison!" and then you could hear all these little voices popping up, "Bison! Bison! Bison!" one at a time. It was HILARIOUS because the other patrons were confused and the kids couldn't stop giggling for being so rebellious in a movie theater!
Well, after that, the word "Bison" (shouted, of course) became kind of our "word" for the rest of the trip. Not only that, but after we got home, we decided that it would be our family word.
Do you know how, dear reader, when families go to crowded places, they have a place that will be the "meet place" in case someone gets lost? We've often done this (and still do), but we took it a step further. Our word, "Bison," would become something we shout when we get lost. If mom or dad yells, "Bison!" the children have to echo the word back. This way, we can hear each other over the loud conversations around us.
In November, the same year of the camping trip, we took the kids to Salt Lake City to Temple Square for the lighting ceremony (when they turn on the Christmas lights right after Thanksgiving). As many are aware, it gets very crowded there (wall to wall people!). At one point, we lost one of the kids (which was probably inevitable), and I noticed pretty quickly. Without missing a beat, we shouted, "Bison!" and we heard a tiny voice, above the crowd, yell, "Bison!" We kept shouting back and forth until we found each other. It took, literally, seconds. And we realized that had we shouted his name, or had he shouted, "mom" or "dad," we probably wouldn't have been able to hear each other. "Bison" is not a word people use in conversation! It's odd enough that it is noticeable. We've used our word many times over the years to call the kids back to us or to find each other.
Fast forward several years. We moved to PA, and as soon as we moved, we bought a 12 passenger van to replace our 7 passenger mini-van we had sold in Utah. The only one they had (in the make and model we wanted) for miles around (literally states around) was a big brown one. A big brown van!? You better believe immediately named her "Bison!"
Then one day, many, many weeks ago, we moved to Kansas. As we drove Bison into Kansas, we remembered that Bison is the state animal! Sweet!
So, there you go. We love bison and the word "Bison." And now, after typing out the word so many times, it's looking less and less like a word. (The same thing happens to me when I type out the word "word" too many times. Word. Word, word, word, word...)
Oh! And also, imagine our absolute delight when we found out that the great Bison will now be our national mammal! How fun!
And here's an article defending the choice of Bison.
And a picture of one (that we took in Yellowstone that summer! I found out it was August of 2010, and so here's the blog post link if you'd like to see what we did on that trip):
P.S. Yes, I've had a bison burger. Yes, it was delicious. Yes, I feel some guilt.