Each one has its unique gift given so sweetly and freely to me – And each has its need for improvement so that we can agree.
As I mature, Christmas takes on a whole new meaning to me. Somehow, I have turned the corner where I don’t worry and fret so much about the presents I give or receive. Most of those trinkets are quickly forgotten once the packages are opened and seasons change. It is the gifts that create special memories for me that I treasure. It is the visits, the phone calls and the helping hands that warm my heart this season. Also, it is the memory of Christmas past that I hold dear. One particular one comes to mind. It was Christmas of 1995 which was the last Christmas our family was whole. My mother died February 1st, 1996 and ever since that year, my siblings and I just never find the time or the need to be all together again for the holidays- just not convenient anymore. My mom was the nucleus of “our family” and now we all have developed into our own traditions and our own families have grown. I know that is the way it goes but just can’t help thinking about how it used to be. We had a family picture taken that last whole family Christmas and my mom is wearing her “Christmas sweater”. It is a beautiful black sweater with a big Christmas bow of sequins embellishing it. I have that sweater. It is one of my most treasured possessions. If I walked into a second hand store and saw that sweater on the rack for $1, I wouldn’t be interested, but I wouldn’t trade this one for anything in the world. I keep it in my cedar chest and have never had it cleaned. I want to smell and feel her when I hold it. I even wear it for a few hours some years even though it is long past being in style. That gaudy trinket is my treasure.
I guess thinking like that is exactly why I get a lot of criticism for some of my methods of working with horses. I am not interested in the “proof of the pudding” in the form of ribbons and trophies as proof of my abilities. Those are just useless trinkets down the road unless they are earned from the heart – yours and your horse’s -and then become a true treasure. I would personally take no joy from completing a perfect performance if it meant giving up a partnership with my horse in lieu of a dominating rigorous drilling that my horse hated. Nothing fills up my heart more than walking out to the pasture and my horse freely walking up to greet me. Now, that is a gift I treasure and hold dear and am not willing to trade.
The gift is sweeter than that first kiss –
Seeing those looks of sheer wonder and bliss…
While we are all running around trying to find the perfect present for our favorite people, let’s remember our other favorite friends and family members. Specifically, I want to talk about our horses. Horses don’t dream about a new halter, ropes or tack (unless it is a definite improvement in comfort over the present gear). Think they will adore a new set of spurs, crops, whips, or other items used to improve performance? Are they are wishing for a flashy bright neon colored feed or water bucket? Not likely. New brushes might be nice or maybe a new coat or blanket will be appreciated when the time comes. Mostly those are gifts to make you feel better and make it easier or more fun for you.
Christmas didn’t hold wishes for baby dolls or Barbies for me –
it was that big deluxe farm set I wanted to see under the tree!
Visions of sugarplums
I always knew I was a country girl at heart, even though I grew up living in town. I loved those weekend visits to the farm – any farm – and jumped at the opportunity to visit whenever it presented itself, even when I was very young.
I loved everything about the country. I could physically run free on what seemed to be endless acres while my imagination happily played out real life-in-the-country scenes. There were barns with hay lofts, corn cribs, rows of corn in the fields, fresh garden foods in the fruit cellars and homemade quilts on the beds. Everything about it appealed to my deepest sense of harmony. Most of all, I loved the animals. It seemed like there was always a batch of new kittens scurrying around, the family dogs ran at your side without leashes or restraints, the chickens roamed free-range and the cows were treated with care and respect. My cousins and I would climb over the wood fences and roll under the electric wires then make wild dashes across the field with our hearts pounding hoping to get to the other side before the bull figured out he could outrun us. Rides on the tractor, the hay wagon or in the back of the pickup were always a highlight but nothing compared to the rides on the old farm horse. Two or three of us would pile on and away we would go until we would slide off in a heap only to get back up and do it again.
One of my uncles lived on a farm but didn’t have horses. He knew that one of my greatest wishes was to ride so he would do the next best thing and lead me around on his dairy cow, Knucklehead. Worked for me. In my mind, I was a cowgirl (literally).
Try as they might, my parents could never quite sissify me and I remain a proverbial tomboy to this very day. Luckily, I now am living the life I always dreamed of. My days are now filled with horses, dogs, cats and chickens.
If you know a little girl who loves that life as I did, who dreams of having a horse of her own, do both of you a favor and indulge her whims. It is not a passing phase, especially if horses are at the center of her fantasy. For those natural-born horse lovers, dolls, tea sets, ballet and ruffles will never hold a candle to pair of boots and anything even remotely related to horse stuff. If Santa is listening, he will skip the dolls section in the toy store and go country.