Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Spread the Christmas Joy with James Callan and Giveaway | Day 4

Joy from James Callan

-->Our second Christmas in Connecticut promised to be special. The new house on Great Hill fronted a quiet lake. The kids had helped refinish and paint a small row boat which they could easily manage. If it turned cold enough and the lake froze, the ice skates would come out. And, though they didn’t know it, they were going to have a very special gift—a horse.
The selection process proved to be complicated. A small mare named Trouble pawed the ground, snorted, and would have bitten me had I not been considerably quicker than I am now. A second horse, Lightening, slept through the interview. The next candidate, Cara, passed with flying colors—until price entered the picture. Eventually, I found a beautiful, roan with a gentle disposition named Cheyenne.

I made arrangements to have Cheyenne transported to a small stable not far from our house. Now I had to buy a saddle. There were western saddles and eastern saddles, but no southern saddles. I discovered Western meant big and comfortable while eastern meant small and uncomfortable. Then came a bridle, blankets, a source for hay, etc..

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, with visions of sugar plumbs dancing in their heads. I slipped out, sneaked down a half mile to the stable, lead Cheyenne to our place, and tied him securely to a bush outside the front of the house.

Our property slopped down to a beautiful lake. So while the main floor of the house was at ground level away from the lake, it projected out eight feet above the ground on the lake side. Leaving Cheyenne in front of the house kept him well below the sight lines from bedrooms and living room where the tree twinkled and presents waited impatiently to be unwrapped.

The kids rose before the sun, leaping from deep sleep to hyper-active as quick as a sneeze, clamoring to see what Santa had deposited in our living room.

Christmas and presents, even if meager, generate excitement and screams of joy. This Christmas was somewhat subdued. In truth, Santa had not been as generous as had been his habit. So, while it’s not fair to say they were disappointed, well – it didn’t take long to open Santa’s leavings.

After a slight delay, wanting them to enjoy the non-horse items, I invited them to follow me outside. This actually made the Christmas offerings look better and difficult to leave. But since I knew how excited they would be over the horse, I persisted. We exited the back and I led them around to the front of the house.

Triumphantly, we rounded the corner to find—nothing. No horse. No Cheyenne. No saddle, no blanket, no bridle.

I was stunned. Horse thieves in Ridgefield? The kids, not knowing what to expect, just looked at me expectantly. What was my big surprise? I knew what my surprise was. No Cheyenne. I surveyed the area. Not only was the horse missing, the large bush he had been tied to was gone as well. Why would rustlers take my bush?

I mumbled some nonsense and sent the kids back inside to play with their meager cache. I headed out, becoming a cunning tracker. There were a few signs, some of which I won’t describe. After only a quarter mile, I heard the sound I had expected earlier—excited children. Rounding a clump of cedars, there was Cheyenne—as well as two young kids thrilled with a newfound present Santa had left for them outside.

I eased up, said some soothing, cheerful things to the young boy and girl, and tried to take the reins. They clutched the leather tighter, accusing me of trying to steal their Christmas present. I explained to them what had happened, but I remained the evil Grinch. The boy’s cries now surpassed the girl’s and people on the other side of the water came out to see what evil was invading Rainbow Lake.

Trouble was closer at hand. An angry mother burst out of the nearby house, ready to kill the person trying to kidnap, or otherwise harm, her children. She was followed by a big, burly man, surely seven feet tall, whose eyes did not show the Christmas spirit.

The woman ran to her children, shielding them from evil me, questioning them about what I had done. The man, his Paul Bunyan legs needing few steps to traverse the distance, began grilling me.

Between sobs, the children managed to get out that I was taking their horse. With the aid of the one rein still attached to the bush, I described how Cheyenne uprooted his hitching post and wandered down to their yard.

The mother’s explanation did not cheer the children but they were somewhat mollified when I promised to bring Cheyenne down and let them ride him later in the day.

When I once more enticed the kids outside to meet Cheyenne, Christmas became a lot brighter. He was a big hit, and continued to be their favorite, even when a year later, a younger, more beautiful buckskin named Major, joined Cheyenne in the family circus.

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing. He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years, and published several non-fiction books. He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mysteries, with his sixth book releasing in Spring, 2014.

Amazon Author page:
Twitter: @jamesrcallan
Purchase A Ton of Gold (here)

 I'm excited for Day 4's giveaway - it's a lovely scarf perfect for any occasion! I know, I know...a girly type giveaway, but it was just so pretty I couldn't help but offer it to giveaway. Make sure you leave a comment (rules for the giveaway below).
**Giveaway rules: To enter, comment on each the post (or posts) in the month of December that offer giveaway items you wish to win. One entry per person per giveaway item is permitted. All winners will be drawn in January (after the holiday craziness) and will be notified shortly thereafter.

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