It has poured rain for several days. A relentless wind makes sure it seeps through doors and windows and blasts down barn aisles. I find myself alone, far from family, mucking stalls in Portugal this Holiday Season. All the horse photography comes from a love of horses…and anyone that loves, truly loves horses, knows a lot about pitchforks and wheelbarrows. I’m adding to that knowledge bank now. While I do feel a little lonely I woke this morning thinking of how lucky I am to have this quiet time.

I have had a lifetime of wonderful Holiday Seasons. I have lasting memories of warmth and family from my childhood. Favorite gifts of, surprise, horse books, stand out along with visits to and from beloved Grandparents. Even in the sixties there were epic searches for items on the “list”. My grandmother told me she traveled many many miles to find “Don’t Spill the Beans!” Years later I would enlist friends and my delivery drivers to find Power Rangers for my son. History repeats.

The Holidays were about much more than gifts though. My favorite memories of all were the Christmas Eve concerts at church. I sang with our youth choir for years and during junior high I accompanied the choir on my flute.  I grew up in the Presbyterian church. Ours was a great cavernous rectangle, devoid of decoration, but filled with light, old creaking pews, and in my child’s heart, spirit.

My favorite song to perform? Do You Hear What I Hear? We sang from the four corners of the church…two groups on either side of the balcony and two groups on either side of the front of the church. I was thrilled to be part of the group on one side of the balcony. It really did seem as if our voices could reach the heavens and have the Angels echo our song.

How lucky am I? The world is filled with people in the midst of violence, hunger, cold, and hopelessness. But I have memories of warmth and plenty and wonder. So I’ll be thankful for the opportunity to exercise, spend some time with horses and the unconditional love they offer, and absorb the glow from the warmth of years of happy memories. My hope is that you are doing the same or making more! And now it is time for me to go back to the barn, and my trove of memories.  My memory of this time will be one of quiet but profound gratitude.