David, my partner of twenty-five years, embraces the season with the wonder, the excitement of the child he was once, there within the flatlands and valleys, mesas and arroyos, the fruit and hops orchards, the cattle ranches of Eastern Washington state; places with names like Yakima, Toppenish, Wapato, White Swan.”So,” I’ve asked him, “you had a pony?”
“No, not really,” his response. “Yes, my dad and mom worked cattle; we had a ranch. They were both school teachers, too. But, a pony… Just a couple old mares. They sat me atop the gentlest of the two when I was very young. Bucked me off. That was the only time the old mare didn’t take to a rider. Lost any interest I might have had in a Christmas pony after that.”
For me, the cliched wish of most who grew-up in a city, a Christmas pony, never appeared in our living room where, as the Christmas day’s dawn had barely risen, wrapped boxes with bows failed to assuage the disappointment of that unfulfilled wish, that prayer for a pony. I settled for dogs.
For David, the season begins weeks before Thanksgiving when he lugs boxes from our cellar marked “THANKSGIVING,” within which the trinkets and pretties, the seasonal linens and china were carefully, lovingly wrapped and stowed the year before. Out they come. Our old house beaming within; a phantasmagoria that enchants or doesn’t–depending upon how much child you’ve managed to hang onto, down deep in your gut or your soul.
Christmas is no different. Let me show you.
The tree is given over to red glass bulbs and spirals. (The most similar ornaments that reflect David’s love of cranberry glass. I’m sure we could probably find cranberry glass ornaments, but at what cost? Probably more than enough to get me a pony!)
Another Nutcracker stands as sentry beside the phalanx of wires and cables, interconnects and whatchamacallits that apparently are required to operate our audio/visual equipment to David’s satisfaction.
Chubby snowmen sit atop the rolltop desk, from which Sarah’s stocking hangs.
Then there are the other pretties, David has placed and hung, arranged and worried over for days.
I suppose, after twenty-five years, a wee bit of the spirit of Christmas David has, year-after-year, infused into our old house has rubbed off on me. Yes, I still have enough of that child within me to appreciate it all. But, then, I never did get that pony. Still, the possibility of that pony persists. And, now that I think about it, is fulfilled occasionally up at Piney Creek…in the company of friends; within the clutch of that good earth where campfires, as surely as Christmas, beg a child’s wonder from eyes aging and aged; an enchantment with the ability to let loose the onerous trappings of adulthood…to see the world through the innocence of a child.