Making Memories

Was there ever a girl alive that didn’t want to have a horse of her own at some point in her life? I sure don’t know of any, myself in included. I was lucky enough to live in the country and by hook and by crook managed to have 2 horses over the course of my teen years. JFK because of the brand on his flank (and affectionately called Jack) and Pepper, my Dad’s favorite.

But city life , even suburban life and the high cost of upkeep in that kind of environment makes it much harder for many young girls …(and boys) to realize those dreams. That’s why a tradition that a friend of mine has started in her neighborhood is such a wonderful memory maker.

It started with last year right around this time. My friend and her neighbors hired the big Clydesdale draught horses for a holiday hayride. They didn’t tell the kids last year, just let them see the wagon coming down the road with those big old horses clip clopping away. I’m told it was quite the hit. In fact it was so good that they decided to do it again this year. The only difference was that the kids knew the horses were coming this year.
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I was privileged to be allowed to drop by and watch the event and get some pictures of the horses and wagon. I wasn’t prepared for the absolute joy and excitement of these kids. They were all ages and they were squealing and yelling and bouncing around! They saw those horses coming way before I could see them in the gathering dusk.

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As the wagon pulled up the children raced to say hello to the horses and pet them before they climbed into the back of the wagon and began singing Jingle Bells at the tops of their young lungs. The horses and wagon made a loop around and came back for a 2nd load. By then it was getting quite dark but nothing dampened the kids’ spirits. It was beautiful to watch.
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I hope these families continue this tradition in the coming years. It is really a “memory maker” and an experience that not every child gets to have. I can imagine these children being grown with their own families and reminiscing about the bonfire and the hayride they took as children and when it comes right down to it isn’t that what the holiday season is really about? Isn’t it about the love and traditions and making memories? It’s not about the IPADS or the American Girl dolls. Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza or Yule or whatever tradition you follow, aren’t the memories made more important than the material things that will soon be outgrown or tossed aside?

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I don’t remember many of the presents I got over the years..maybe one or two…but I do remember things we did. Christmas Eve we watched the movie Amahl and the Night Visitors and while we were engrossed in that my parents snuck our presents under the tree from the “Florida” Santa, (Presents sent from family that lived there). Christmas morning was reserved for the presents from our immediate family.
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After the movie we opened those Florida gifts then went to Midnight Mass. It always seemed to snow and driving home was always a slipping, sliding adventure but we always made it. Those are some of the memories of Christmases past that are so rich that I can smell the incense and remember the excitement.

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It is my sincerest wish that these children will have this memory for a lifetime. That when they think back to their own Christmases past they will remember this adventure too because that would be all the more special! And that’s what Family and holidays are all about.

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