Monday, December 16, 2013

My Tenth Christmas - Roseann, 62

On Christmas Eve that year, we went to my sister Bert’s mother-in-law’s house.  Mrs. B. came down from the bedrooms upstairs, beaming with brightly wrapped gifts.  She gave a package to Bert and one for Kathy and then Sharon, but there was nothing for me.  I was only ten-years-old.  I cried my heart out.  Bert told me not to cry.  I was not their grandchild, so I didn’t get a gift.  When I think back on it, Mrs. B. may not have had the money to buy me a gift.  She worked cleaning houses to supplement their income because her husband was an alcoholic and spent a lot of his paycheck on beer.  Or she may not have thought of a gift for me.  She smiled at me and was nice to me when I saw her, so I always felt that she liked me.  I was quiet and polite around her.  What was there not to like?!

The next day was Christmas morning.  As I looked under the Christmas tree, there were very few presents for the girls and me.  I opened the one box that had my name on it and put on the pair of slippers inside.  I wanted to open a flat, square package, but Bert told me to wait for that one.  After all the presents were opened, I was allowed to open the flat package.  Inside was a horse’s curry comb!  They took me outside to the back shed and showed me my Christmas present: a 9-month-old silver dapple Shetland pony!  Our friends on a neighboring farm raised Shetland ponies, and Bert and Jim had spent $50 on this gift for me.  I named him Dusty.  He was too young and small to ride, so that was a disappointment, but it meant a lot to receive this lifelong dream of a pony for Christmas!  We kept him in the shed during the mild winter, and he stayed in the yard all spring although it wasn’t fenced in.  If we held the back door open, he would follow us right into the kitchen, but, of course, we weren’t allowed to do this after the first time when it was funny.  As he got older, when he wandered away from the homestead, I would go outdoors and make the sound of horses’ hooves by tapping my hands to my knees, and he would come running from the nearby woods.  Kids on my school bus thought he was a large dog when they saw him. When I moved from Ohio to Nebraska for 6th grade the following Fall, Dusty was returned to the farm from whence he came, and he lived a long life safely inside a fenced-in pasture.

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