Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reflections on 2009

This isn't really equine-related, so I hope that's okay. Is anyone with me that Christmas seems to have lost its meaning?

I used to love Christmas. These last few years, I've dreaded it. Christmas is for families, and my husband and I don't really have any immediate family to celebrate with.

I couldn't get in the mood, no matter what this year. I've talked to so many people this year who didn't even bother to decorate. The only reason I decorated is because I had the barn Christmas party at our house. Next year, I don't believe I will. I'm not looking forward to taking the decorations off of a twelve-foot tree. Ugh... I think next year we'll go to Hawaii for Christmas. We went to the San Juans for Thanksgiving and had a wonderful time. Treating ourselves to a trip sounds a lot better to me than buying each other a bunch of gifts we don't really need.

I managed to get a cold the day before Christmas. I'd planned this wonderful, old-fashioned Christmas Eve party, which to my surprise about a dozen people accepted my invitation to attend. I purchased prime rib, which I've never cooked before but thought I'd give it a shot. A friend was bringing his karaoke machine, and we planned on singing Christmas carols. It sounded like great fun to spend the evening trying to recapture the original spirit of Christmas. Unfortunately, I was too sick so I had to cancel. We did end up having a nice Christmas day and dinner with very good friends and my stepson and his fiance. I even felt well enough to enjoy it.

As I'm sitting here, reflecting back on 2009, I had to remind myself of the good things that happened this year. All in all, it truly was the best year ever for us.

My husband and I were not affected directly by the economic crisis. We are fortunate to have very good jobs. I'm happy to have both of my stepsons back in our lives after long absences for both. I'm thrilled with our new "man cave" addition. I'm glad my husband quit smoking. I'm grateful we were able to take several trips as we love to travel. I'm appreciative of our good friends and their support over this past year. They say people come into your life when you most need to learn the lesson they have to teach. That is the case here. Also, we both have our health.

I'm also thankful that the mystery behind my husband's identity theft has finally been solved, as best as it can be. Now there's a post for another day, even though it's not horse-related. It's certainly a lesson regarding protecting your identity, as the consequences of his identity theft are still with us in many ways.

As far as writing, The Gift Horse was published in February. It went into print in July and is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble (online). I really loved writing this book, and I hope you'll love it, too. I'm toying with several projects in 2010. I may try my hand at a suspense novel set in my hometown of Oroville, Washington. I'm finishing the last edits on Fourth and Goal as we speak, then I'll be submitting to several publishers. I have tentatively agreed to write four more books for my current publisher and need to get started on those.

Horse-wise, this was a very different year for me. I didn't show in one show. Of course, up until her bout with cellulites Gailey was going better than she ever has. I hardly rode at all, which is strange for me, maybe once or twice a week. As a result, I put on ten more pounds. Dressage really does burn calories. I'm also considering that I may not have a dressage-sound horse when all this is said and done. Which brings up a dilemma I haven't dealt with in years. Do I want another dressage horse? Will I just bring her home and trail ride if that's the cards fate hands me? After building the man cave, we really don't have any expendable income left for another show horse. So this may be something I'll need to face in the future.

Gailey is feeling good. She's been turned out every day and is leaping and bucking around her paddock. I'm going to ride her on Monday for the first time in over two months. At first, I'll just walk her. Her leg and hock are still swollen but not painful. I've had several people tell me that she needs exercise at this point to get the swelling down.  So that's what I'll tackle next. We both need the exercise.  ;)

Last, but not least, I'm thankful for the success of this blog and all the people we've met because of it, as our readership continues to grow.

Please send me a bio and picture so we can all get to know our readers for our Readers Write Saturdays. You don't need to use your real name, if you'd prefer not. We'll welcome anything that's appropriate, such as an equestrian-themed piece of writing, a story about a horse in your life, or just a bio about you. Just send me an email to

This has been a rambling post, but I hope you enjoyed it. Have a great 2010!!!


Leslie said...

Jami, sometimes I think I'm the only one who's never in the Christmas mood. Good to read your take on it. I tried to be into it this year, just like I try every year.

My dad's passing in November was always on my mind, I know he wouldn't want me to not enjoy my time with my family so that's not really a good reason. My husband wondered if that was the reason. No. I can honestly say that's not it.

I try not to let "it" bother me, but every year, by the time Dec 25 winds down, I am in a bad mood. It seems to evolve and creep in. I ask myself, "what is wrong with you?" The conclusion I came to this year, the whole Christmas season feels forced. That's the word that kept coming into my mind.

I really don't like to complain about it, but in my thoughts I do. Outwardly,I suck it up until it's done. I do that because sometimes it feels wrong to not like the season! I keep telling myself, it shouldn't be like this and therein I think is part of the problem for many folks.

On a good note, I had a lovely Christmas Eve here at our house with our little family. Sometimes though, I would really just like to skip it all together....

Laura Crum said...

Leslie (and Jami), I hear you. I have been in the non-Christmas space before. Right now I have a young son who still believes in Santa Claus (Ok, he's led a sheltered life) and in the idea that the spritits of his loved animals magically find a way to bring him gifts. This alone makes Christmas worthwhile and fun.

The other thing I do is keep it low key. If we go to a party on Xmas Eve, we stay home Xmas Day with no company. I have a little bonsai tree I put tiny lights and ornaments on every year, I put greens I pick on my property in the house, we deck the porch with a couple of strings of lights. Enough to celebrate the season--doesn't take long to do. I know if I keep it simple and low key I can enjoy it, and if I try to do too much I won't... so that's my trick.

This year we "gave" the wildbirds a birdfeeder--my son and I have derived endless Xmas cheer these last few gray days from watching the little birds enjoy their gift. Sometimes its the simple, easy things that seem to celebrate the season best.

For me, if I get involved in the feeding frenzy called Xmas shopping, or the need to somehow decorate my house like "everyone else", or allow myself to accept too many social obligations, I'm doomed to be miserable.

Happy New Year Leslie and Jami--I hope there are lots of joyful moments ahead.

And Leslie, thanks for your many insightful comments on this blog. I always enjoy them.

stilllearning said...

Laura, thanks for summing up the joys of simplicity so nicely. This is my 3rd attempt at a positive comment; I just couldn't find the right words.

Kids and quiet family moments help keep the spirit of Christmas true. Sometimes you have to dig pretty deeply under the greedy trimmings of the commercial holiday season to find the joy. But it's there, and worth looking for.

Our holidays are quiet these days, and very different from when our kids were young. I'm looking forward to the next cycle (grandchildren?) in the upcoming years; for now, quiet is good.

And Jami & Leslie, when a holiday tradition seems like a lot of work and not worth it--skip it for a year or two and see if it's missed. We've pared back our celebrations to what really matters that way.

Laura Crum said...

stillearning--I agree with you. I used to do Xmas dinner for my extended family, after celebrating on Xmas Eve with them, and I always ended up overworked and unhappy. Ever since my son was born, though, I've firmly resolved that Xmas Day I would stay home and relax, cook something simple, just enjoy the day. It made everything so much better. Now I enjoy the Xmas Eve party again. I think that eliminating events, decorations, people from your present or Xmas card list...whatever, and seeing what you miss--and don't miss--is a terrific idea. I found that virtually all of my adult friends and family were happy--no delighted--to forgo swapping presents, and boy has that made life sweeter during the busy month of December. I don't miss all that Xmas shopping at all. My husband and I don't do presents at Xmas either--and we're both happier. But I love my little bonsai tree, and lighting candles on solstice...etc. Being woken by my child at 3:00 AM with an ecstatic, "Mama, there's presents out there--Santa Claus came!" was totally worth the trouble it took to achieve that goal. So, there's stuff that we each find worth doing and stuff that we don't--and I think that's unique to each of us. I keep trying to give myself permission to eliminate what I don't find worthwhile--thanks for the insight, stillearning (I love your blog name, by the way).

Jami Davenport said...

LJ, I think you hit at the crux of the problem--forced is definitely what I feel.

Also disappointment, as each year we have high hopes of seeing my husband's children, even if for a short while, and each year they get dashed. He hasn't spent the holidays with his children in 15 years. I have come to the conclusion after this year, that it will never happen, and it's time to move on, make other plans, and not wait around for an event that isn't going to materialize. I know they have good intentions, but it never works out. I'm going to make different plans next year. I'm making sure we're not in the position of being the ones holding our breath for a call that'll never come, so I think we'll probably arrange a few trips out of the area. We did that for Thanksgiving, and it was wonderful. It's better for everyone and takes undue pressure off of them, anyway, that they don't need that time of year when they're busy with other priorities.

stilllearning said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
horsegenes said...

As my kids have aged I have felt the stress of christmas and the need to try to ignore it completely. We have a large family, I have 15 nieces and nephews on my husbands side alone! When my children were little we rushed around trying to make it to all the family get togethers so they could spend time with their cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We had tons of meaningless gifts to buy and wrap and it became overwhelming. My kids have now aged past 18 and things have slowed down.

Last year I didn't put up a tree, boycotted the family Christmas Eve party, and just wanted to stay at home in front of the fire and veg out. This year alot of the family was coming home, at Christmas Eve the "family talent show" was brought back by the great nieces and nephews - there are 13 greats now! It was so much fun watching them sing, do somersaults, etc. It was like things had come full circle. I was watching the parents and they were beaming watching their little ones follow in the family tradition. I could also see a little weariness and stress on their faces. I have to imagine that is what my husband and I looked like years before.

We decided no gifts, just family, friends and good food. It felt right. There were 33 people at Christmas Eve in a fairly small old style farm house. It was loud, warm, familiar, strange, easy, unusual, relaxed, exciting, all rolled up into one!

I cooked prime rib for dinner for my husband and kids Christmas day. Everyone chipped in and helped cook, set the table etc. We had a quiet dinner, talked about the night before, family, the gifts Santa had brought us and the things we were planning for the new year. It was the perfect end to Christmas.

If you had asked me about Christmas for the last 5 or 6 years I would have said BUH HUMBUG! As we age things change and go in cycles. This year was an up cycle and kind of renewed my desire to participate in Christmas. Hang in there and look for your up cycle. It is worth it.

Shanster said...

I was not into Christmas this year either. A family death - even tho' it was expected and ultimately an end to much suffering brought a stand still to much holiday excitement.

Normally tho', since we don't have children, we keep things very simple.

I love holiday lights.. we try to make it to the area botanic garden light display and sneak a discreet kiss or 3 under the mistletoe...

or we drive around to see everyone else's light decorations.

Sometimes I put up lights at our place but it's one or two strands that are easy - no ladders or cherry picking buckets or elaborate displays. Just enough to make me smile as I drive home from work in the dark and I see the cheerful lights on OUR house.

I do enjoy some Christmas music and at least one night of making dinner during the holiday the Christmas CD's come out and the t.v. or radio turns off ...

Our house is small and filled with cats and dogs so we skip the tree (it would be a disaster waiting to happen) and usually get a wreath to hang outside our front door because I love the smell of pine trees... it's a wonderful way to greet the day or to finish it when we go in and out of our house.

And that is about it. We find certain things we enjoy - and bring little, simple bits into our lives.

We try to reflect and appreciate what we have and how lucky we are to have such good people in our lives even tho' we may not be with those people physically - the reminder of them is in the cards we get each year that I tape to my kitchen cabinets and I guess that is enough for us!

This year however, the most festive thing I did was buying holiday colored M&Ms. It's all I could muster! I did put them in a pretty dish and set them on the table... chuckle.

Laura Crum said...

Shanster--this year seems to have been a tough one for many. Lets hope the new year is better. As I said in my last post, I lost three friends in the last six months, and it has made many of my quiet moments less joyful than usual. But as kel pointed out, things run in cycles. We just have to hang in there and a more upbeat cycle will come along. But I know what you mean about feeling down--currently its all I can do to take care of my muddy, woolly, little yaks--I'm not moved to ride them--and then, of course, I feel guilty about it. Did you ever resolve the "issue" that was bugging you with your horse?

Jami Davenport said...

Yes, this does seem to have been a tough year for lots of people. I know so many people who didn't bother with a tree or even presents. Next year, we aren't doing presents either. In fact, I'm pretty sure we'll go to Hawaii.

I do agree that life seems to go in cycles, some tragic, some wonderful. You just take the good with the bad and learn something from both... We're all "still learning" until we die. LOL!!!

Shanster said...

Oh yes - without the sadness there would be no joy... I do believe that. And I don't like the sad years, tho' I suppose we need them. I guess this year was about sadness... let's hope for some more joy and laughter in the one to come.

Laura - nope. Didn't figure it out... YET. It's more about me than him... I have a brain bug with some fear going on and I'm ready to ride but skeered enough I don't want to without my trainer there to hand-hold and watch to make sure I don't create an issue...and her schedule is so busy - whattya know, she has a life too! (even tho I really do want it to be ALL ABOUT ME! grin)

We'll get to it... so deep breath. He's fine having a break, I know I'm in good hands and I'm determined enough to get thru not yet but heres to exterminating/squashing/killing that brain bug but good in 2010!