The Most Wonderful Time of Year…

This is the 99the post on the Gardner Hard Luck Horse Farm blog! I was a bit surprised when I looked at the stats. My subscription to this site auto renewed for another year, so I guess I’ll keep this going through 2022! Here’s hoping the world begins to return to normal!

The morning after Halloween, I put away the Halloween decorations that had been up since August 1. September through January 1st is my favorite time of year, and I had tried extending some of that joy to August, because 2021 has been such a crap year… Why do all of the good holidays happen in the last four months of the year? Anyway, six days after taking the Halloween decorations down Darling Husband, Offspring, and I participated in the 25th Nature in Lights ride, which is essentially a trail ride through lighted Christmas light displays, because the first weekend in November is the only weekend it is open to equestrians…That catapulted us into the Christmas season with no stop over at Thanksgiving whether we wanted one or not. Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is just not that exciting to a five year old, and I’m not sure how much schools really teach about the holiday anymore anyway. Is what I’ve been taught about Pilgrims and Native Americans as a kid even a politically correct explanation any longer?

The morning after the Nature in Lights ride, Offspring must have asked at least one hundred times to put up the Christmas tree. I tried for exactly three days to explain that Thanksgiving happens before Christmas and we needed to wait for that before giving up entirely. So on November 9, I hauled out the Christmas tree and 90% of the Christmas decorations. Its pretty obvious who really runs the show at the GHLHF. After we put up the Christmas tree, I figured we may as well take Offspring to Santa’s Wonderland in College Station for opening weekend to avoid the crowds. I’ve completely given up pretending Thanksgiving is a separate holiday at this point. Apparently at the GHLHF we only celebrate Halloween then Christmas with a pause for turkey in between.

I’m not the only one with a toddler that has been swept up in the Christmas spirit. A friend of ours is posting photos of her son (a year younger than Offspring) insisting on wearing his elf stocking cap outside every night to do the nightly barn checks. Now that we’ve started, I feel the need to keep the “magical” holiday momentum going, so I keep looking for activities that may turn into full blown traditions that hopefully Offspring will carry with him into adulthood. Darling Husband began putting up the outdoor Christmas lights, and was quickly informed last evening that he needed more. I think Offspring is aiming for Griswald status, so I brought home a ginormous Santa inflatable (Tacky? You bet!) that should take up most of the front yard, you know “MORE” with minimal effort on our part, just plug in the cord.

One of my favorite childhood memories is riding in a wagon pulled by a team of Belgium draft horses through a Christmas parade. I don’t own any drafts, mainly because I don’t have the acreage or pasture to feed them, but I’m hoping the pony cart decked out with Christmas lights and sleigh bells will be memories Offspring treasures. We managed to sneak in one Christmas parade on top of the Nature in Lights Christmas ride. I want to make it a priority to do at least two pony cart drives a week from now until Christmas singing carols, because Offspring’s versions of carol lyrics are hilarious. The Christmas channel on XM is the only station my truck is allowed to play between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also have a Christmas Cart Ride playlist for our pony drives. As Offspring gets bigger and braver, pony cart rides with his mom might not be high on his list of fun Christmas activities, and may even border on embarrassing. I need to treasure the next year or so, and savor these outings.

Family Christmas photos and the GHLHF Christmas cards are something I spend a fair amount of effort planning. I blinked. Fall disappeared in a blur of activity, and unfortunately, our Christmas card order was a bit rushed. I’m happy with the end product. It wasn’t GHLHF’s most creative, but its cute. I managed to get some adorable Christmas pony pictures after the cards were ordered, but December is a hectic time both personally and professionally for me. There is a schedule that must be adhered to in order to pack in the memorable holiday activities with Offspring.

Another friend posted about things that remind her of Christmas during her childhood, and that maybe by giving our children everything, we are really robbing them of the whole experience. She felt the waiting and anticipation of getting one special thing, for Christmas was part of the magic. Being the same age as my friend’s daughter, I can still relate and worry about that. It is the main reason I focus so much energy on holiday activities and traditions that will hopefully be more memorable and meaningful than anything Offspring finds under the tree Christmas morning. I often worry that as an only child, being slightly spoiled is inevitable, but I also hope he really feels all the love he’s surrounded in.

I’m feeling a little bit of mom guilt because Darling Husband and I booked a weekend at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas without Offspring. Offspring will be in good hands in a home with tons of holiday spirit, and we rarely have an adult weekend alone without him, but I know I’ll start wishing the little bugger was with us after the first twenty four hours. We packed the Christmas parade and salt dough Christmas ornament painting into this weekend, knowing we would be gone. This time of year is always crazy, but we’re doing our best to be present and enjoy every single moment. This year and the next few are the age when Christmas will seem most magical to a little boy, so we don’t want to waste a second of it. Experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a small child is the absolute best!

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