December 23rd is an odd day. There is the childhood anticipation of the coming Christmas day, or the adult anxiety of the coming Christmas day. My parents were married on Christmas Eve, 1940. If my father were still alive they would be married 73 years. Frankly, I still see them married. But that was a long time before I was a gleam in my father’s eye. While I do not remember anything important happening on December 23rd, I will regale a tale about a Christmas when I was very young. I don’t remember exactly how old I was; we were in our new home, but I think it was before I started elementary school. So somewhere between 3 and 6 years old.
As a child I was Horse Crazy. As an adult I am still Horse Crazy. There was even a brief period where I actually owned horses. But this tale is about my first riding horse; more specifically my first rocking horse.
This rocking horse was one of the new fangled ponies. It was sprung on four very large springs which enabled it to not only rock back and forth but bounce up and down. This horse was probably the most used Christmas gift I have ever been given. And quite frankly, the best horse any child could ever have because this horse never got tired, never needed to be fed, was always saddled and ready to go, and could take all the abuse that a preschool girl could dish out. I don’t know if my parents ever got me off that rocking horse that glorious Christmas day. I was on it in a flash and I don’t ever remember getting off. We took off on so many adventures, explored so many places; we rode with the James Gang, we competed in the Olympics, we delivered for the Pony Express, and we won the Kentucky Derby.
I could ride that pony, bouncing up and down, back and forth, from one end of the house to the other. I find it amazing, as did my parents, that I did not punch a hole through the walls with all my galloping. I am also amazed that my mother did not go crazy herself having to hear the banging of the frame on the walls or the squeaking of the springs as they were stretched to their limits.
As time marched on, I grew out of the rocking horse physically and emotionally. I started collecting Breyer horses, I started riding real horses at the ranch where my parents built a cabin. The rocking horse was handed down to a nephew who was five years younger than I, but he wasn’t horse crazy.
I still think about that pony; how I could get on it’s back and be transported to a different time and place. It was a type of time machine for a little girl who only ever wanted to have a horse. While today I live on a large tract of land and I could have a horse or horses, I now know the extreme responsibility involved in caring for them. They are magnificent creatures, but they are also quite delicate. And they require a commitment that I am just not ready to give at this time. So I will remember my rocking horse, and the carefree moments it gave to me.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.
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The post is in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge – Ghosts of December 23rds Past