penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.


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Tonight I opened the twenty-second door of my advent calendar and found…a sleigh.

We have lived in our neighbourhood for more than 10 years now.  When we moved in, we knew it would be our forever home – because there were five or six boys playing street hockey out in front of the house without a care in the world.  We knew that was the kind of place we wanted our kids to grow up in.

Today I was reminded once again how much I love our community.  Each year, our neighbours organize a horse drawn sleigh/wagon ride and drive around the neighbourhood, singing Christmas carols. This year I had an opportunity to volunteer.  Just as the horses were arriving, I had a chance to talk to the guy who has been organizing it. He started doing it more than fifteen years ago – when his own children are small. They are all grown up now and still come to enjoy it.

I was in charge of handing out song sheets and trying to get people to start singing. Actually, it was more about making sure my husband arrived so he could get people singing. My husband is the kind of person that you can’t help but want to sing along with because he’s having such a good time doing it.

By the time the wagon was ready to go it was completely filled with children – to the point where they were just about spilling over the sides.  The horses started up on a quick trot, my husband started singing and we were off.  I walked quickly to keep up as the sleigh moved quicker than I expected.  I soon fell into step and into conversation with neighbours and friends.  We talked about plans for the holidays, who we were going to visit, what was the latest virus our children had managed to catch just in time for the holidays.  It was cold, but we soon warmed up with exercise and good feelings.

We stopped by one particularly decorated house to admire it.  However, as the sleigh started up again and I started to trot along beside it, I suddenly heard a small voice calling out for mommy. I looked down and there was my son, who had climbed off the wagon to get a better look at the brightly decorated house.  In the crowd of people, I had not noticed him – I had been so distracted talking to people that I had nearly missed him.  Clearly, I would make a terrible shepherd if I can’t keep track of all my little lambs.  He was too heavy to carry, and he had to run in order to keep up as the horses pulled the sleigh further and further away.  He must have run for a half a kilometre in his heavy boots and snow suit before the party slowed down enough for him to join up again.

Finally the sleigh pulled up in front of the most brightly decorated house in the neighbourhood.  You can see it from blocks away – close up it practically looks like daylight in his yard.  The electric company must love him. The gentleman who lives starts decorating right after Halloween and slowly adds to his display until the beginning of December.  He has been doing it for many years – but he is now quite old and not feeling well. We have noticed over the last couple of Christmases he has not been putting up as many decorations.  But it is still pretty spectacular.

After we sat for a couple of minutes, Santa came through the door.  Even he was decorated in lights. He had a bell he was ringing and two helpers to hand out candy canes.  Mayhem ensued as the children climbed down off the wagon and ran towards him.  He spent time with each child, leaning over and asking questions.  After a while, he said he had to get back to working as it was almost Christmas Eve.  The kids all climbed back onto the sleigh and we took off again – back towards our starting point.

Back at the field house, there was a little party with cookies and hot chocolate.  Children ran amuck while parents stood around and chatted.  As I stood there, drinking my son’s hot chocolate and eating a ginger cookie I felt content.  I have a wonderful community around me – and I know I have neighbours that have helped nuture that and support one another.  Life is good.


Written by pennyinacastle

December 24, 2014 at 9:12 pm

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