Greetings one and all!
It’s that time of year again: the holidays! Thanksgiving has always remained one of my favorites between the food, time together with family and friends, and the remembrance and recognition for what we are thankful. And who doesn’t love Christmas?
My sister Danae came out to visit me and I could hardly let her go at the end of her stay. It was certainly memorable with our day trip to Boston, Thanksgiving snow storm, and power outages! It was a rainy morning when Chris, Danae, and I set out for Boston. Many people told us we would probably end up miserable in this weather but stating how we grew up in Oregon, we assured them that we would be fine and still find ways to have an enjoyable time. Armed with umbrellas, hats, and scarves, we set off. Determined to walk the Freedom trail, which takes the traveler on a couple mile walk to historic sites and through the heart of downtown Boston, we began following the iconic red brick path. It started out a little rough with rain and huge gusts of wind that laughed at us as they turned our umbrellas inside out. Thankfully, as the morning progressed, the rain subsided and the weather for the rest of the day was quite admirable!
We walked past the house in which Paul Revere resided, the church steeple where the lanterns were hung to warn of the British approach, the battleground of Bunker Hill, several old cemeteries where influential people lay, saw the USS Constitution, and the old State House where the Boston Massacre took place. We were filled to the brim with history, and overflowing with the excitement that these very places have made our country what it is today: the land of the free.
We climbed the 20 story monument at Bunker Hill, traversing the winding staircase of almost 300 steps. The stairs were taller than anticipated and the leg workout accompanied with them was no trifle thing. But the views of the city and the harbor at the top were unbeatable! Once reaching ground level again the rest of the Freedom Trail walk seemed more challenging as our wobbly legs humbly succumbed to the will of our minds to press onward. My two fellow tourists were mentioning the burning they felt in their thighs, but I felt it in my calves. Being a Dressage rider my thighs are very strong but my calves have been trained to one position and one position only: heels down and toes in. I chuckled at the comparison. That evening we witnessed the Blue Man Group, filling the rest of our Boston hours with a night of music and entertainment. Satisfied with our Boston trip we turned the car northward again admiring the city lights as they faded away behind us.
Then came the night before Thanksgiving. The first snow of the year began that afternoon and quickly accumulated. The weight of the snow on the old trees in these parts gave way to numerous power outages across the state and lasted for days. Quickly we filled extra water buckets and tubs before the propane ran out in the generator so the ponies could have water for the duration of the outage. Emerging from the basement Thanksgiving morning we were greeted with 6 inches of glistening beauty and the sound of Mary’s snow blower blazing a path from the house to the barn. There was no small amount of shoveling that day either…..add sore arms to the list!
When it comes to taking care of animals there are no holidays and so while at work that day what did we do? We built the world’s best snowman! And there he stood greeting Mary’s guests as they arrived for Thanksgiving festivities. Sadly many people had to cancel their Thanksgivings since no one had any way to cook their meals. Thankfully our evening destination was not affected by the outages and we enjoyed a lovely meal and after dinner game of Lord of the Rings trivia. Splendid! One of the things I’m thankful for is living quarters in a basement where a lack of power only produces sheer darkness but naturally stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Oh, and an awesome truck that looks at the dangerous road conditions and scoffs! Safely it carried us to and from our destination with only one instance where major fishtailing and sliding temporarily stopped both our conversation and hearts. Expertly, I eased off the accelerator, touched not the brake, and turned the wheel toward the direction of the slide, back and forth, until we straightened out and traction was restored. Thankfully I knew what to do though it is all completely against one’s natural reaction. I do have to say that riding horses has helped me retrain harmful first reactions. Those of you who are horse riders will understand. We want to respond to a behavior and not to react, and one never wants to ride a reactive horse, but a responsive one. This is a good life lesson for many areas in your life if you think about it. The evening the following day power was restored and I bid adieu to my sister. Until Christmastime.
The premier of December brought about a visit from the veterinarian to reexamine Pepper. As he trotted for the vet, flipping his head to show how well he felt, to my surprise he was sound! There was however still a slight shortness on that leg as he trotted the other direction. The radiographs showed complete filling of the bone at the fracture site. Pleased, the vet gave me permission to get on him again! For two weeks now I have been getting back in the saddle for only a few minutes and at the walk, but boy does it feel good! Starting at ground zero I have my work cut out for me to rebuild proper muscle, stamina, flexibility, and contact. I feel that Pepper will come back stronger and in no time we will be back to schooling 2nd level Dressage! Now for a saddle…..
I do have to mention here that Chris and I are no longer courting, deciding instead just to remain friends, discovering that we lacked the emotional connection one desires in a spouse. Mutually things ended amicably and it has become a great learning experience for the both of us. So I’m back to being single again which brings me back to a lot of quiet nights alone in the basement. Now to convince the other barn girls to blow off their boyfriends a few nights a week so we can do things together. Hmmm, maybe it’s time to look into a community choir again? Drama? I’ll look into it.
The winter season is refreshing to me: banning the summer evils of humidity and bugs. With a deep breath I take in the crisp, clean air and sometimes while exhaling it’s fun to pretend to be one of those rich bloaks who consider sitting around smoking and shooting the breeze as a high class social event. The horses, too, look like fire breathing dragons with every breath, sporting two puffs of “smoke” which simultaneously emit from their nostrils outwards. The most fun is what looks like recently extinguished campfires every time a horse does his business. I will admit on a few occasions I have noticed the vapor wafting up in my peripheral and I find myself checking that there is no fire in the barn. Can’t imagine anything worse. Hey, can’t blame me for being a concerned working student. It’s better to check. And finally, the white purity of the snow covers up all the mud from the previous rains and everything looks clean and fresh again.
I pray as you progress in this holiday season to look for the areas requiring renewal.
Remember: Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon the things and people in your life that God has gifted you. Take not these things for granted and renew gratification for them daily.
Rebuild: Relationships between friends and family can become tense and distant over time and over trivial things. Rehabilitate what was lost and put the small things behind you focusing on what is really important. Remember, don’t react, but respond.
Redemption: This is where our hope is found. Christmas celebrates the humble birth of Christ, becoming incarnate to take upon the burden of our sins and pay our debt to God. Through Him we have salvation if we choose to believe, resurrecting into a new life in His holy presence for eternity. Christ was the ultimate gift for us. Respond. Remember this as you bless those around you this Christmas.
Thus with newness of heart embrace this time and let it not fade away as the new year comes. Keep the vibrancy all year long and in the years to come rejoicing in what you have, the people you know, and how you can reflect the character of Christ, His love, and forgiveness, upon His people. And friend, you are precious in His sight. He came for you.
Grace and peace be upon you this holiday season.
Until next year.