by Laura Crum
My little house—sort of the Mexican cantina Xmas lights effect. I’m trying to simplify this year. Less presents, less parties, less Xmas decorations. I have to say that I find the whole “retail Xmas” thing overwhelming. My idea of seasonal spirits is sitting on the porch at 5:00 watching the Xmas lights glow in the early winter dusk—with a whisky sour in hand and 50’s era Xmas music wafting out the open door to the house (yes, I live in coastal California, and this is why I can sit on the porch in the evening with the house door open this time of year).
The truth is that I am at heart an introvert, as are most writers, or so I think. Introverts are drawn to writing and reading and solitude as extroverts are drawn to parties and people. I can pretend to like parties and people, but I am most comfortable on my porch watching the sunrise and sunset with only my family and animals around.
Sunrise, sunset from my porch this December (and yes, we just watched “Fiddler on the Roof” for maybe the 10th time.)
Lately I have had some sad experiences, and this turn of events has intensified my introvert tendencies. So my version of “happy” holidays involves lots of quiet alone time contemplating some interesting (to me and my husband) garden projects we are doing.
We built a small greenhouse this month—and my husband intends to use a system called aquaponics to help us raise even more of our own food. Here is the little greenhouse, waiting to be filled with plants and fish.
We currently raise our own grassfed beef and most of our fruits and veggies. We’ve been eating the wonderful apples from our Fuji tree for three months now. Something to be grateful for here, for sure.
And this week I was reminded of the pure joy in a lovely ride on our good horses. It was 70 degrees on Monday, warm even for here (in winter), and we were motivated to haul the horses to the nearby redwood forest (Forest of Nisene Marks) and go for a ride. It was magical.
I hadn’t ridden Sunny other than maybe once a week here at home for over a month and he was absolutely flawless on the trail. Calm and quiet, trotting and loping merrily up the little hills, careful on the downhills, trooping steadily along, looking around happily at the scenery. No balking, no spooking, no jigging. Such a good horse. Here we are looking down at Aptos Creek.
The other horses (my son’s Henry and Wally’s Twister) were equally good, negotiating the tricky spots on the trail and the funky bridges with aplomb.
We crossed the creek—very low this dry winter.
As I patted Sunny’s neck on the way back to the trailer, I was reminded of why I bought this very good trail horse…and why I will keep him for the rest of his life out of gratitude for what he has given me. It is such a joy to be able to pull your horse out of his corral after a month off and head down the trail with zero issues. All six of us (three humans and three horses) enjoyed our ride equally, as far as I could tell. A lovely day and a great gift—made me very happy.
So my current holiday message, which I remind myself of whenever I feel stressed, is “I am so grateful for what I have.” Followed by “Don’t reach out to other people, just wait to be guided.” Then I take a deep breath, look at my garden and horses and husband and son, and realize that all is well. In this moment, all is well. And this moment is all we ever really have.
Being aware of my own joy and content in the present moment—this is what happy holidays means to me. I would love to hear other thoughts on the subject. Cheers--Laura