A Christmas Tradition

Christmas decorations on a barn. A wreath on the door. A small Christmas tree sitting on a stool next to an open stable door where a white horse is looking out. An orange cat is cleaning itself in the foreground.

Merry Christmas everyone! Although I am sure that the holiday celebrations are over for most of you readers, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas full of love and happiness.

Since I was a little girl, Christmas has been my favorite holiday. What other occasion is universally loved by most everyone you talk to? What other occasion necessitates weeks of planning, and results in beautiful decorations, and decreased tempers in the name of this precious holiday? Not to mention the wonderful break from schoolwork and having time to be with your family. Yep, Christmas has always been my favorite, and our family’s Christmas traditions included our horses too, as any horse crazy family is sure to do.

I don’t remember how this tradition started, it’s been so ingrained in my mind since I was a very little girl, but in the days when I believed in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, I also believed that on as magical a day as Christmas, the horses were allowed the ability to speak to each other. Now, for a little girl with a fanciful imagination, who absolutely adored animals and wanted nothing more than to hear their thoughts, this new found knowledge necessitated trips to the barn every Christmas day in the hopes of catching the ponies in the act of  having a conversation with one another. What would they say? What would their voices sound like? And since most of us horse owners attribute various personality traits to our beloved animals, we had always joked about what they would be talking about if we actually did overhear. Alas, the horses always seemed to sense our presence and grow tight-lipped before we could eavesdrop, but  once we were there, I didn’t even mind that they were mysteriously mute. My fondest memories from Christmas include bundling up for the cold and delivering treats to our animals, playing Santa Claus in their world as a reward for being nice all year- or at least mostly so!

Those wintery days filled with nickers and steamy breath from fuzzy noses taught me more than simple, childish ideas. It sparked my imagination- my older brother and I became so adept at developing their personalities that we could have entire conversations pretending to be our horses. It also made Christmas about more than just gifts and material goods. All of us strive to find this “Spirit of Christmas” idea and live by it, but for a child it is much harder to understand the significance of the birth of Christ and remember Him and His sacrifice when there is a gorgeous box all wrapped up in shimmering paper and topped with a fancy bow in front of us, just beckoning us to tear through and discover what treasure lies within. These barn trips made Christmas about giving, and is that not part of this “Spirit of Christmas” idea? Is that not why we buy gifts for friends, family, loved ones, and neighbors? Because the funny thing about giving is that you also get something in return. Call it faith, call it a warmness, call it love, but when you give, you grow richer, and in the way that counts.

So while this small idea may have seemed too silly to be of any greater significance in life, it turned out to be a wonderful lesson that I will not forget lightly. If you have a horsey tradition, feel free to share it below! If you have small children and a farm within driving distance, feel free to adopt this one- the horses always appreciate visitors who come bearing gifts. The wonderful thing about horses is that a few carrots are sufficient to bring happiness. We could all take something away from that, couldn’t we? So on that note, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!