This is a part of something I wrote for the Christmas radiothon edition of my favorite podcast. Whether the audio didn’t make it or it wasn’t selected, I don’t know. But with Christmas and my birthday this week, I decided to share my memory of a past favorite horsey Christmas. Every horse crazy kid asks Santa for a pony at some point. From a very early age, my sister and I got our pony. My memory of that time is limited at best. My story is from many years later.
In the very early ‘70s a family could have horses and ride without having a lot of money. We had very little money. My parents were divorced but my dad lived close. My mom had rented a small house with some horse property. She was a horse girl, too. Mom boarded horses to help cover our costs. She did this, worked a full time job, and raised horse-crazy twin girls. My sister, Keila and I were of the age where we had certain questions regarding Santa, but still dreamed, believed in wishes coming true, and in miracles.
We dreamed of being National Velvet, horses like Black Beauty, and of riding the trails like every TV and movie western. Some of our dreams were more practical, like joining 4H with our horses. One thing all these dreams had that we didn’t, were saddles. I know it seems strange, but my sister and I rode bareback or with pads almost everywhere. My mom had a saddle, our pony had come with a small saddle, and I remember some weird, old thing with stirrups on it around. But Keila and I did not have saddles for our horses.
These days, my ultimate Christmas wish would include a large barn, indoor and outdoor arenas, a dressage court, expensive footing, lighting, and sprinklers… You get the idea. Oh yeah, and being a perpetually perfect athletic size 8 would be part of my ultimate fantasy.
However back then, the thing that would make all our dreams come true was a saddle for each of us. Thanksgiving was at Grandma’s. After dinner, she would have us write our Christmas lists. First thing on our list was a saddle. Our grandma tried to suggest we be more practical. She explained how hard my mom already worked for what we had. Keila was upset and crying. I felt guilty and disappointed. Kids don’t want to be practical about Christmas or presents. Being kids we wouldn’t let it go, but we held little hope.
I would like to say that “when we wouldn’t let it go”, it was because wrote letters to Santa or reverently gazed at saddles at the tack and feed stores. We did those things, but my sister was frequent and vocal in her desire. I was quiet and resigned and maybe a bit sulky. Being a mom, I sure it was annoying, but probably a little fun knowing what would come on Christmas morning. To this day, I have no idea how she and my dad paid for the saddles. No spoiler, this is about my past ultimate horsey Christmas gift after all!
Wishes made, and dreams still to come true, and the anticipation. Anticipation was and always will be the best. Christmas Eve tradition was a trip to Grandma’s and opening a few gifts like pajamas, followed by Chinese food. I always get sentimental during ‘A Christmas Story’ when they end up at the Chinese restaurant. Grandma, and the rest of the family would come to our house on Christmas Day. But home again on Christmas Eve, all the horses checked and bed time loomed. How did we ever fall asleep?
Christmas morning, and the smell of turkey already permeated the house. Keila and I joined in one bedroom to open our stockings. Mom and Dad came in to ask if we wanted to see what Santa brought! My mom had somehow got my dad up early and over to the house. That was kind of a Christmas miracle in our family. With our eyes closed, our parents lead us into the living room. When we opened our eyes there were western saddles on either end of sofa! We screamed and cried happy tears. That day there was more joy than I had thought possible. Obviously, we had to try our saddles immediately! After our rides, the saddles HAD to come back in so we could show them to everyone and admire them all day long. Best day and gift ever for a couple of horse kids.
I don’t remember what we did for saddle blankets or pads. Maybe we got them for our birthday three days later. Yes, a twin sister and a Christmas time birthday.
I lost my mom and my sister in less than a year from each other. The first anniversary of my sister’s passing was earlier this month and my mom’s second is coming up. I miss the people they were when they were living their passions, before the pain that robbed their souls.
I think if I could have them back, as their true selves, it would be my ultimate gift.
Make every moment count in 2018, and enjoy the ride!