Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Published 11:44 am Friday, December 26, 2008

Sometimes God gives you a little present.

Well, actually, I believe He gives us gifts all the time; it&squo;s just that we seldom recognize them. Furthermore, it is astonishing how the smallest thing can stir the heart and quell the stress and the grievances of our daily lives.

Like many of you, I too have had a challenging year: accidents that necessitated trips to the ER, sick animals, broken water pipes, exploding septic tanks, a missing cat (I still believe she is alive) and putting down a cherished horse of 29 years, Moose. Most of these calamities demanded hefty payments and, naturally, finances are tighter than normal and it was with a rather bleak heart that I contemplated Christmas as I walked through the front field to bring the horses in for the evening.

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It will be a pared-down holiday this year. Our annual tradition of gathering in a particularly lovely Inn has been vetoed and it was agreed by all to share in only the most modest of gift giving. Worst of all, donations to favorite charities will have to be smaller.

I&squo;ve never been an extravagant gift buyer for Christmas as it is my personal battle against commercialism. It&squo;s tremendously important to me, particularly as I grow older, to focus on the season of advent with careful introspection. However, to be honest, there is a dollop of paganism within me as I never feel I&squo;m truly living unless smack-dab in the middle of nature, so I find great comfort in bringing armfuls of holly, pine and cedar into the house to decorate. And it was these thoughts of finding a few more berries and pinecones to arrange along the mantle that made me sweep my eyes along the grass as I approached my horses, comfortably grazing, manes and tails filigreed in the late afternoon light.

It would have been so easy to miss, this tiny gift. But there, coiled tightly beside a tuft of dormant bermuda, was the dearest little bird&squo;s nest, woven carefully with twigs and dried grass and threaded within it was the unmistakable, coarse, white, tail hair of my old horse, Moose. Placing it in the palm of my hand I was mesmerized by both its simplicity and beauty. It is such a little thing, fragile and charming, yet powerfully illustrating the circle of life.

May you, too, have a merry, little, Christmas.