Thursday, December 3, 2009

Traditions: December Moon Over a Night Barn

I love barns at night. The soft light emanating in the darkness. You just know the animals are in there, warm, well-fed, secure.

Especially during the Christmas season, barns take on added meaning. I was playing Christmas songs on the piano last night and I was struck by this line in What Child is This?, my favorite of all the Christmas songs:

Why lies he in such mean estate, where ox and ass are feeding?

I remember posting a picture of this exact same moon last Fall. As a matter of fact, I used it as part of the banner for this blog. (Above) And there it was again last night. I called it the December Moon. It's born of frost and sunshine.

My farrier came out yesterday. We both agreed we'd love winter if every day was like yesterday. Beautiful moon. Sunshine. Cold.

And then, this morning--frost on the ground and Beautiful waiting in her new/old enclosure for breakfast. We had our first official "lesson" (because every day, no matter what you do, you are giving them lessons) in months yesterday--going over the basics again of disengaging front and hind-quarters. At first she was a little confused when I approached her from the side--as if I was Cowgirl, the alpha mare, getting ready to bite her. I saw it in her eyes, so I stopped and reassured her--it's me--I'm fair--I'm predictable--I don't bite.

I rubbed her neck a little bit and then asked for her step. She disengaged and crossed over nicely, like I wanted. I took the one step and reassured her again. She licked her lips and relaxed and the rest of the lesson was just wonderful. Partnership--no fear. She tucked her head and backed up with the slightest pressure on the nose, she moved fluidly each time I asked it of her. Now that is one filly who is happy to be with humans again.

I'm glad I introduced her to the herd for the summer, but in all honesty, she didn't seem to really blend well with them. She was happy to get away from them, and they were thrilled to get Cowboy back.

The farrier visit was beyond great. If there was a mark higher than A+, she'd get it. She picks up her feet now as she sees him approach them. She does it for me, as well. I think if she could pick out her own feet, she'd do it. After he was done she followed him around wanting to be in his back pocket. I guess all humans are looking pretty good to her right now.

Here's Mount Spokane this morning as I went out to feed them, but where is the moon?

Here it is, in the West.

See this paper angel on the tree? My kids and I put it up last weekend. I love putting up the tree. We have an artificial one because I grew up with an artificial. The tree becomes its own tradition, just like the ornaments.

This angel was something I purchased a long time ago when I was teaching. I believe my oldest son was only a year old at the time. One of the teachers brought them into the lounge and sold them. I bought this one and it became our tree angel. Each year the kids take turns putting it on.

She looks pretty raggedy at this point, I had to hem her dress with tape, but she keeps coming out each year to do her job.

And the foyer is transformed yet again--to Christmas.

What family traditions do you have? Favorite Christmas songs? CDs? Ornaments? Trees? Food? I'll be the first to answer this question in comments. We have lots and lots of traditions and I love every one of them.

Traditions are like that December Moon, something that returns, something that, when everything falls down around you and your life is in chaos, are there to guide you to safety.


  1. I love Christmas traditions! Here are a few of mine, and I'm sure I'll forget to mention many:

    Food: Seafood salad, Chocolate Covered Cherries--these two things are always at my mom and dad's house on Christmas Eve--along with many more wonderful food items, but these two are reserved for Christmas Eve. The seafood salad is AMAZING!!

    Decorations: We had an artificial tree for almost my entire childhood--the same tree--each branch was color coded and fit into a hole in the trunk. It was HARD to put up, but as we moved around the world in the Air Force, it followed us to all of our many new homes. It was something we could have every year that was the same. We loved our tree. My parents are going to bring it back to life next year when my brothers and their families return home from serving in the military.

    Ornaments: My original family (my parents) have many oraments I love, like the glass drums, and now my own kids have many, many ornaments which define their own lives. We pass them out to them as they come out of the box and they put their own ornaments on the tree.

    Songs: I love all the Christmas songs. The Mannheim Steamroller CDs bring back memories of my children when they were babies. We always played them when we decorated. I think it was the Oak Ridge Boys that we played at my parent's house.

    Presents: Everyone has a different way of doing presents. For us, we opened our presents to each other on Christmas Eve, after our Christmas buffet, and then on Christmas, Santa came and gave us our BIG present. I continued that tradition with my kids.

    Nowadays, we go back to my parent's home at Christmas Eve and have the seafood salad, listen to my dad read the Christmas story as we all place our pieces of the nativity into the barn as our characters are read, and then exchange presents.

    When we were young, he couldn't read the Christmas Story fast enough, of course. Now, we like him to go slow.

    We have a new batch of children coming up in our family though, that will bring back the excitment of getting things started exactly as the sun goes down, and speeding up the buffet and story!

  2. I'm glad that Beautiful's happy to be back in her old home. Isn't it interesting that the "wild" horse seems to prefer human company to that of the herd?

    Traditions, oh yes. We have a few going on here too.

    White Christmas. We watch that movie every year. As a matter of fact, we may have most of it memorized, and have been known to use the dialogue in our everyday lives.

    Food/Music Combo: My daughter and I make a Christmas lasagna every year, from sauce to finish. The special ingredient is the ambiance supplied by the Frank Sinatra Christmas cd playing while we cook.

    Entertainment: For many years, we went to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in NYC every year. What a show, the living nativity scene at the end brings us to tears. We haven't been in a few years and miss it, NYC is very magical this time of year.

    Oh the list goes on. This is a great time of year for tradition, holding on to those memories and feelings of love and peace. 'Tis the season :)

  3. Joanne, You'd love it here, then, because Frank Sinatra is from Spokane and we have a theater named after him. Every year (this coming weekend) they have a festival and bring in his surviving family and play his movies, culminating with White Christmas!

    I haven't been to NY at Christmas, but would absolutely love to go at this time of year.

  4. Linda, beautiful pictures, barn, moon, and your house and decorations!

    You mean Bing Crosby, right? wink-wink!

    We have lots of traditions. Our kids used to get to open one gift on Christmas Eve -- sort of to relieve tension. Usually a gift from grandma or someone else sent via mail, because Santa's gifts were never revealed until Christmas morning. Some of the traditions morph over the years. We love Dickens' Christmas Carol and all of the various versions. We used to all watch A Christmas Story - because my grandson is a dead-ringer for Ralphie, and we always felt it was "our" movie because of that. And then Christmas Vacation is a favorite because Wayne is goofy like Chevy Chase, and the kids feel like they're watching their dad! Lately we've been watching Polar Express - for the wonderful message of how important it is to believe, and to "get on the train."

    My favorite music of all time is anything recorded by Michael Allen Harrison, a beautiful, giving man - a pianist and composer who lives in Portland,OR, whom we became familiar with when we lived there. No matter what mood I'm in, if I hear his music, I'm instantly transformed to a more peaceful inner place. I used to love to go to the Grotto in Portland and listen to him play.

    We used to have a turkey dinner on Christmas day, but for the past 4 or 5 years my boys will roast a lovely prime rib. We love to play games and usually spend much of the day eating, laughing, and playing.

    My second batch of grandkids has given us some delightful and nostalgic moments as we remember when their parents were that age. My grandson Connor will be 3 in May, and he is so smart and talking up a storm and will probably remember this Christmas. And then his sister Ashley is 15 months, and my other son Cory and his wife have a baby girl due any day now. Life is good.

  5. Traditions. They have evolved over the years. When I was a kid, small, the Christmas tree appeared Christmas morning. We never saw it until we got up Christmas morning. I remember crying because every one had a tree but us. That changed when we got older. Now its an artificial tree and some of my ornaments were my great grandmothers. I cherish them.

    Music: Well I love any Christmas music. One of my favorites is on a Gaither, Christmas CD - Look Whats Happening In the Barn.

    Now we have our family Christmas Christmas Eve because they all like to be home Christmas morning and establish their own traditions. Its always fun. This year Christmas morning we are driving over to Marysville to spend the weekend with our oldest daughters family.

  6. Laura--You're right! It's Bing Crosby!! I wrote that before I left town this morning--at about 5:00 am., and you can see how bright I am at 5 am!!

    Your traditions are a lot like ours. We love Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase, and my absolute favorite is a Christmas Carol with George C. Scott.

    Lea--That is so interesting that your tree appeared Christmas day--and your great grandmother's ornaments?? I'd love to see those. You should post them on your blog.

  7. Linda,

    I had that same tree growing up! LOL I now get a live tree - we cut our own when we had a ranch in Nebraska and now, we get a permit and do it in the National Forest - but I still remember that artificial tree. And the original box that it stayed in year after year, no matter how much it was falling apart. LOL

  8. You had the SAME tree?!? Wow! Then, you know all about how hard it was to put up!! The colors were so similar on the branches, you couldn't tell which were which--like different shades of purple and pink. It didn't help that, through the years, the paint faded! Funny! Do you know where your tree ended up?

  9. Yup, I remember it well. And you had to get the branches in just right, or they didn't fit, so you'd wonder if it was the right color or not. Thank goodness the paint didn't wear off completely, though. Did yours have the little wire pieces with green on them that you put around the "trunk"? I have no idea what happened to it. I think my parents finally got it rid of it years ago when they moved at one point.

  10. Yes, ours had that, too. I'm so glad my parents didn't throw it away, but I think it has been retired now for many years. I can't remember the last time it was up. They switched to an easier tree, then a smaller tree--and now that all the kids are going to be back--they're going to dust it off and put it back up again--bring it out of retirement, that is. My younger brother had put dibs on it for the future--so we'll see about that. I put in second dibs, just in case he changes his mind.

  11. Linda, I wanted to email you about a part of our horse program that you might be interested in, but I can't find an email address for you on the blog. Do you mind emailing me at anne @ ? Thanks! :-)

  12. Linda, I LOVE your photo of the barn at night. It is so calm and peaceful! Beautiful!

  13. I liked your comment over on Joanne's Whole Latte blog: "...because on Christmas, anything goes!!"


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