I did have something interesting to say, but I have forgotten what it was. I wrote it in my head this morning, as I was cleaning my teeth, and for a while it existed, brilliant and filled with clarity, in the corridors of my mind.
Now, it has gone.
I think it was something about the small things, and perspective, and luck, and gratitude, and all the amorphous thoughts which gather and jostle at this time of year.
I have been missing my dear departeds. I think of my dad, and my dogs. But I think of the living too: the lovely family that remains, the old friends, the beloved animals, so vivid, so antic, so entirely delightful.
I saw the great-nieces and nephew today, twice, by chance. The first moment was when they had come down to gather holly. They drove up as I was out on the red mare, and I cantered alongside the car for a bit, waving and smiling. I think the old duchess may have hit a top speed of twenty miles an hour, which is going it for her. In her racing days, she would have motored up to about thirty-ish, before she gave it up as a bad job and resumed her traditional place at the back. She really was one of the slowest racehorses in Britain. So I was rather delighted that she put on a bit of celerity. She pricked her ears and pointed her toes for her small audience, and I was flushed with pride.
They tumbled out of the car, in their hats and boots, a tangle of joy and sweetness. They were all intensely excited and wanted to tell me their news. It made my morning glitter and glimmer. Who cares that the sleet is coming and storms are forecast? Who gives a damn that I am completely disorganised and really don’t know if it is Christmas or Easter? Those small smiling people, so alive, so good and funny and open and true, put me in the festive spirit like nothing else.
Then, half an hour later, after I had put away my good girl and rugged her up against the weather to come and thanked her for being so entirely marvellous, I ran into them again in the shop. There was more shrieking and smiling and laughing and waving and hugging. They are a little party in themselves. So my rather dull errand was turned into a carnival.
Perhaps that was what I wanted to write about, after all. The presents and the cooking and the decorating are all very fine. I rather like all of that side of things, even though I have not been feeling at all Christmassy this year, and am running constantly behind. But really, the true spirit of Christmas lies in those charming, smiling small people. Like the mare, they have the power to lift me up. Like her, they are all goodness and love. Like her, they are absolutely their most authentic selves. Like her, they are my best present.
Getting a little bit Christmassy:
The noble face of Stanley the Dog:
The red mare, this morning, coming up for breakfast with The Horse Talker. We quite often don’t use headcollars. The girls just sweetly come with:
And her face when she saw me:
I would like to say that this look of love is because she knows I am her number one best human. In fact, it because I have the bucket in my hand, and she knows what that means. FOOD.
On the other hand, she does know I am her dedicated human. Horses are pretty clever like that. There have even been some scientific studies about them recognising their person’s voice. She knows that I am reliable and consistent and trustworthy. These are not headline-grabbing virtues. They are not the sexy, rock and roll ones. But they are the most important ones when it comes to working with a horse. That, and kindness and love. And the giving of time. And slowness and patience and thought. Put all those into a horse, and you will get the equine of a lifetime. They will pay you back in wonder which goes beyond words. What you put in, you will get back. Which seems to me a pretty profound life lesson from my best professor.