This year was ... something else. Between the apocalyptic demise of every creative person we ever loved and global events that feel, well, actually apocalyptic, it is difficult to jump right into a cheerful year-end wrap-up. Taking a cue from John Oliver, Dallas dive The Grapevine Bar has gone so far as to name its New Year's eve party something we're not even allowed to publish. (Click here to see it, at your own risk.) But, whether you enjoyed this year of celebrity deaths and political death-matches or not, one thing remains true: Texans kept on Texaning, y'all.
When we began this list last year, we didn't know exactly what makes a particular item "wonderfully Texan." It's hard to describe. Size matters, of course, in a place where everything is bigger. So does shock-value. Add a little hubris, then round it out with some hard-scrabble edges. Or, to paraphrase the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart:
You just know it when you see it.
Here are some of our very favorite, wonderfully Texan moments from 2016:
1) First, the most wonderfully Texan thing since the dawn of time happened.
Matthew McConaughey attended Austin City Limits on October 8 where he introduced Willie Nelson and proceeded to get a pic with Willie onstage and an armadillo perched on his leg. For those worried about leprosy, he's alright, alright, alright -- it was just Willie's road mascot and good luck charm, Ol' Dillo, who is, well, stuffed. Reddit went nuts when user Daciex shared the "legadillo" pic.
2) Speaking of McConaughaaaay, the Academy Award -winning Best Actor is still driving around -- but these days, he's politely offering students a safe ride home.
McConaughey is teaching a film class at his alma matter this semester, and he helped out with the campus' SURE Ride program (that stands for Students United for Rape Elimination). If that's not enough to remind you why much you love him, he also volunteered with Meals on Wheels over Thanksgiving in Austin.
3) In a cautious attempt to get back into our good graces, Blue Bell dropped two new flavors, Camo 'n Creme and Cookie Two-Step.
Ooooh, but don't eat the Two-Step. It was quickly recalled due to possible Listeria concerns...
4) What does camo even taste like? A mix of pistachio almond, cream cheese and milk chocolate. Just ask this guy's mom ...
5) Speaking of moms, this corn-on-the-cob loving one from San Antonio showed the world how "doing you" is really done.
"i busted out laughing cuz she whispered in my ear 'you want some corn?' i was like wth from where mom? And she showed me," her son @DaleVDelrosario later tweeted.
6) This distinguished Houston hottie was dubbed "Mr. Steal Your Grandma."
7) Also hot: Burning Big Tex, the punk art icon
Since his fiery demise in 2012 and subsequent rise from the ashes, Big Tex has inspired gruesome works of art, pop kitsch and tattoos, most popular among those with a certain macabre imagination. This year, he was dubbed a "punk art icon."
8) Willie Nelson broke the Granada Theater's sell-out record.
Also broken: Hearts. Some folks weren't happy when tickets to the living legend's upcoming back-to-back shows in the intimate venue sold out in seconds, especially when second-hand sellers quickly jacked up prices to $750-plus per ticket.
9) George Strait came back to Texas for one night only, but you probably weren't invited.
At least there was theoretically a chance we could have gotten Willie tickets. King George's private show at Gruene Hall was kept top secret.
10) Not top secret: This native Dentonite's epic keyboard performances.
We'd say "slay, girl!" but TBH we're a little afraid this bad ass might actually slay someone.
11) Speaking of slayage, Beyonce fans went all out when the native Houstonian brought her Formation World Tour to AT&T Stadium.
Like, for instance, local singer/rapper Sam Lao who was not playing.
And this mom, who dressed up her whole family:
12) There was the "punch heard 'round the world."
Which, of course, got wonderfully meme-ified. (RIP, Hodor)
13) Texans' beloved fast-food burger joint threw a fancy shindig known as Whata-Prom.
Seriously, these pics tho.
14) Then there was that time we tossed a couple of news nerds over the railing atop The Ball.
Oh, yeah, it was for charity.
15) Willie Nelson's son, Lukas, re-created his dad's original, iconic "Don't Mess With Texas" video.
And, we looked back at 30 years of great country artists who love the beautification program.
16) Once a cherished springtime activity, the obligatory roadside bluebonnet photo opp fell prey to internetification.
BT-Dubs, we also learned that, despite common belief, it is not illegal to pick the state flower.
17) Many squeed upon learning they could soon purchase lipstick that was color-matched to a tube from the late Queen of Tejano's personal make-up case.
18) Gas Monkey Garage debuted a monster truck designed by Richard Rawlings because yaaaaas.
19) Fort Worth threw a cannabis convention, but no one was allowed to get high...
20) It was finally revealed that Ted Cruz was not the Zodiac Killer.
Didn't help his year go any better, tho...
21) Someone who did have a good year: Simone Biles, our goddess. Our queen.
She and teammate Madison Kocian were among more than 100 Texas-based athletes who competed in (and, in some cases, completely dominated) the 2016 Olympic games.
22) The Real Nail Queenz gave us specs for a reality show we actually want to watch.
Forget those other "real" hot messes. This year, we met Yani Williams, and her friends, The Real Nail Queenz. Williams, a Houstonian, needs to grow her nails about four more inches per hand to go to beat a standing Guinness World Record, but what we really want is for her proposed reality show to materialize. Teaser alert: Here's their YouTube channel.
23) Harris County real estate boomed with interest from a furry new demographic.
There goes the neighborhood.
24) Guy Clark made dying seem like a work of art.
Among the many, bitterly mourned musician deaths this year was the great troubadour, Guy Clark. Following Clark's passing, funeral and vigil, his friend and fellow musician Joe Ely posted on Facebook the epilogue to a new book on Clark by biographer Tamara Saviano. It details Clark's final wish: to have his ashes incorporated into a sculpture by Terry Allen. Told with humor and deep respect, the whole story is a worthy coda to a remarkable life.
25) San Antonio clapped back at Austin over breakfast tacos. (Plus, a lot of other not good things.)
Also: Change.org petition -- Exile Matthew Sedecca from Texas for Taco Negligence
26) Plano clapped back at The Real Housewives of Dallas. (Most of whom do not live in Dallas.)
27) Like a good neighbor, Erykah Badu was there.
Not to mention, she set a good example for her kids. They handed out cold water to runners and cyclists at White Rock Lake.
28) The GOP found commas oh so queer.
A grammatical error in the Texas Republican party's official platform resulted in the unintended claim that more than half of the state's population is gay. Not that there's anything wrong with it.
29) Someone dropped $1,000 for ranch dressing because nobody tells Texas how to eat its pizza.
30) A bison with a 'great personality' moved in with this cool lady in Argyle.
As far as roommates go, they get along great, as long as Bullet doesn't track in mud.
31) Forget the drive-thru. This hunky cowboy rode his horse straight up into Taco Bell.
32) As if Elf on the Shelf didn't induce enough nightmares...
Actually, this high school principal is pretty awesome. Hope you don't get detention slips in your stocking...
33) A sign spinner in Frisco taught us to put more life in our days.
34) An Allen elementary school student solemnly swore he would be up to no good while on vacation.
35) Let's talk about July 7, 2016.
It was one of the worst days of the year. Not just this year, of any year. But, a number of people showed us what "wonderfully Texan" really looks like.
Thank you Police Chief David Brown (Ret.). Thank you Dallas police officers. Thank you DART officers. Thank you peaceful protesters. Thank you good journalists, like our Hannah Wise, who bravely kept reporting live on the scene. Thank you businesses, organizations and individuals who helped put us back together.
Words aren't enough.