Sunday, July 10, 2016

CHRISTMAS IN JULY—REMEMBERING MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS PRESENT OF ALL TIME

Christmas is on my mind since my newest picture book SANTA'S UNDERWEAR (wonderfully illustrated by Marty Kelley) will make its grand appearance August 1.  So I'd like to share the story of my very favorite Christmas gift of all time.

On Christmas morning, when I was eight, I ran up the stairs to our attic family room expecting a new doll.  Then I saw my present. That sure didn't look like a doll!  Was it real?  Could it be?

I was seriously horse crazy as a kid.  I ate oatmeal for breakfast every morning—because horses ate oats.  I really wanted a horse.  But it wasn't going to happen because we lived in a small house with a small yard in the middle of Springfield, Missouri.
Me on my Grandpa Rhodes' farm horse, Nellie.  She didn't go very fast, but I was over the moon!
What was this?  Right here, beside our Christmas tree, stood a real live burro!  Not just any burro, but the most adorable burro in the world.  He looked like a big stuffed toy.  I rushed over and stroked his soft, velvety muzzle.  He turned his head to look at me with his big brown eyes.  He had the longest lashes I had ever seen.  I decided to name him Pedro.

I called my neighbor, Donita, and blurted, "I got a burro for Christmas!  Come see!"  She was pounding on our front door two minutes after I hung up the phone.
Me, in my nightshirt, admiring Pedro with my friend, Donita.
I'm not sure where Dad bought the burro, but the important fact is that he did. I later learned that around midnight, on Christmas Eve, the family car slowly pulled up in front of our house with my furry present.  They must have been quite a sight.  Imagine if a policeman had stopped Dad when he was driving and had written a ticket.  "Traffic violation:  Man driving across town with burro on lap."  Earlier, Dad had hidden some hay in our garage.  That's where Pedro spent the night before Christmas.  He didn't make a sound.  The surprise was perfect.

All the kids in the neighborhood were impressed and a little jealous.  I was an instant celebrity—The Girl with the Burro!

Pedro stayed with us through the Christmas vacation. I felt like a real cowgirl as I kept his stall supplied with sweet smelling hay.  I ran my hands over my burro's shaggy, rough coat, loving the feel of it.  I adored his funny, long ears.  Who needed a horse when I had a sweet, darling friend like Pedro?

At the end of Christmas break Pedro went to stay at a horse farm at the edge of town.  Plans were that I would visit him on weekends.

I never did get to visit my burro.  Pedro was there for a week and liked his new home.  He followed the horses around the pasture.  One afternoon there was a winter thunderstorm.  A frightened horse accidentally kicked Pedro in the head.  He died instantly.

My parents didn't tell me what really happened for many years.  They didn't want to spoil my love of horses.  They said Pedro ran away.

I like to think that all our pets end up in heaven.  Maybe Pedro is there—waiting for me.


4 comments:

  1. Christmas gifts are worth remembering for both the person, the presenter and the receiver. Its nice to hear your story about your best gift of the christmas. Enjoy and keep writing!

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  2. Thank you. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about my memories of Pedro.

    ReplyDelete