Wiley, the Christmas Horse


by: Gerry email

I thought that after thirty years of being asked by my only son  “So, what would you  like for Christmas this year ?”  or  “If I give you money would it be better if you chose your own Christmas present ?”   that something was really rather strange this past year.  In the weeks leading up to the big day,  not a word  did  he say,  not one question did he ask about my Christmas gift  preferences.   Knowing that he usually felt a lot of uncertainty when shopping for  my present  I  assumed that he had decided to skip the shopping part entirely and just slip money into a  Xmas stocking.   I should mention that I,  on the other hand,  love to shop for Christmas.   Trying to decide on a really meaningful  gift  for family and friends,  one I think they will truly enjoy,  is a passion with me.   Since Virginia’s Eastern Shore is home to so  many artists and artisans,  I always  scour the Shore for some interesting  art  type gifts before I shift into what I think of as “high gear”.   ”High gear”  is my annual Christmas shopping pilgrimage with a friend or two, usually  to Washington DC, sometimes to New York.  One of the  things I  love about living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is how easy it is to get to interesting  nearby  areas such as Williamsburg, Richmond, Washington ,  Annapolis,  Charlottesville, etc.,  as well as points north including Manhattan, Cape May, maybe even that den of iniquity, Atlantic City.    This past year we made the 4 hour drive  from the Eastern Shore to Washington,  laser focused on unearthing  some great deals over the next few days at  Tyson’s  Corner and  treating ourselves to lunch at Neiman Marcus.  Splurging  by staying at the Ritz , we parked  ourselves by the cozy fireplace in the evenings,  toasting  the season with hot toddys and cold  champagne.   So much fun, so little time and all  too soon we were on our way home. 

Still no  gift questions or comments from my son.  Then, on Christmas Eve, a  festive  dinner and presents after.   And  I must admit,  after  all of  the presents were opened and he  didn’t have a box or even an envelope  for me that I felt rather  disappointed.   About 11 pm he kissed me goodby, saying that he had to leave to meet some  friends.  No “sorry I couldn’t find anything I thought you would really like”,  no  “please use this to buy something nice”.   Just “Merry Christmas, Mom”.   At that point my first thought was that I should have had more than one child.  Although I am a firm believer that it is better to give than to receive,  truth be told, I was feeling rather disappointed.   Then, on Christmas morning  I received a call asking  if  we would possibly have the time after Christmas lunch to  join  him  at a friend’s  big waterfront horse farm south of  Cape Charles.  We  would and we  did.   And when I got there  he said  “Come look at this.”    We walked into the barn and there  in  a stall was a beautiful grey Arabian colt,  dressed  in a red halter with  a red Christmas bow in his mane.  After 20 years since I last had  a horse I was looking  into the eyes of  one of my  sweetest Christmas presents  ever… Wiley, my Christmas horse.

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