Every Christmas eve was special when we lived at Windesphere. We had wonderful neighbors who turned into dear friends, and every year we celebrated Christmas eve with them. We'd go down to their house early and drink champagne and stuff ourselves with appetizers and Christmas cookies and then the children would wait impatiently for the clock to strike at midnight so little Jessica could turn the pages of the "Night before Christmas " book while listening to Orson Welles narrate the story. Then we'd open the presents we'd gotten for each other , (Alex always gave Jess a huge box of festive bows!), eat one last delicious cookie or maybe two and then wander home to tuck ourselves happily into bed and wait for Santa.
Those Christmas eves were magical and will never, ever be forgotten.
One year, it was really snowing...a classic white Christmas that doesn't always happen in Northeast Ohio. It was cold too, so I decided mid festivities to drive up to the barn and to give the horses a bit more hay and to make sure that the cats were tucked in safely. As I got to the barn, the snow was falling gently and I just sat there for a moment in my truck, just watching, listening to carols and enjoying the dancing icy snowflakes. My century old wood and fieldstone bank bark had a simple wreath on the door, nothing else. That old barn was surrounded by beautiful pines whose boughs were covered in soft piles of snow and at that moment, it looked like a beautiful Christmas card.
That was the first time I ever heard this version of this song. Today, it can still bring tears to my eyes...it was such a peaceful moment just sitting in my truck and watching the snowfall. The harmonies are powerful and beautiful.
When it was over, I slid out of the cab, opened the barn door and took a deep breath. Horses happily enjoying the last of their bran mash, their breath sweet as I tucked a couple of extra flakes of hay into their stalls. Josh, the best and fuzziest barn dog I've ever had was curled up in a pile of hay, snoring and dreaming old happy dog dreams. I was greeted by my barn cats as I walked up to the hayloft. All was well in their world, mice were plentiful and so were soft piles of horse blankets and straw. It took everything in me to walk back down the stairs, shut the barn door and go back to the party.
This song has never left me, and neither has the memory. If you've never been in a barn on Christmas eve, trust me when I say that there is something just beautiful about it. I think that maybe it's because it is quieter on that night, than almost any other time of the year. The hustle and bustle is finished...what's left is to enjoy the wonderment and there's no better place to do it than in the company of extraordinary and magical creatures.
Maybe I'm still just that little girl who has never ever stopped believing in the North Pole and listening for the sleigh bells.
My mother would tell you that I was always more intrigued by the reindeer than I was Santa...
One disclaimer? That's not my barn door but it's close enough....