So, in case you haven’t noticed yet, it’s almost Christmas. I thought this might be a good opportunity to share a story about one of my most memorable Christmases of all time.
The year was 1994. I was in the first grade and living off some county road near the Portales Country Club golf course. Christmas morning began in all its usual splendor with the opening of gifts and Mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls. I could hardly believe it when Rhianna (my sister) and I walked into my parents’ bedroom to find a cardboard box about as tall as the room itself containing a full-size trampoline waiting to be assembled and misused by reckless children for years to come.
We all changed out of our pajamas, most of us brushed our teeth, and the family loaded up the minivan and proceeded to Dora where Jo and Papa, my mom’s parents, awaited us. Turns out Rhianna and I had more company than we expected.
In the driveway, tied to a basketball goal post, was a tan beast swishing its tail and shaking its head. A metal sign with an engraved horse was propped up against the goal post, reading something like “My name is Kandi. Owned by: R&R Anglin.”
Unbelievable. A real-life breathing, neighing, vaguely smelly horse. My cowboy credentials had just shot through the roof. No more horse-shaped swings made from tires, no more stick horses. I must be the most important kid ever, I thought. Between the horse and the trampoline, Santa was letting me know I had paid my dues in virtue that year.
Filled with Christmas dinner and my own self-administered dose of holiday hubris, the family took a horse trailer out to a dirt road between Dora and Portales.
My aunt Pat took me up under the armpits and sat me on Kandi, instructing me to hold on to the saddle horn while Jo held the reins. Of course, I was already a horse expert, so I knew what to do.
Kandi started acting up a few seconds later, jerking forward suddenly and making beastly noises. Maybe it was all the attention, maybe it was my loud voice, but Kandi finally spooked, jerking her reins from Jo’s grip and taking off at full sprint down the dirt road as my six-months pregnant mother did her best to catch up to us.
I didn’t know where Kandi was going, but she was getting there fast, and as I gripped the saddle horn with white knuckles and shrieked loudly like any self-respecting cowboy would, I looked ahead and realized we could be in another state by the time Kandi slowed down. I swung my left leg over the horse, and with right foot in stirrup I decided to hop off Kandi. Then everything went black.
I would spend the remainder of Christmas in the old Roosevelt County hospital with a concussion. I got out the next day. My great uncle Bill managed to chase down the horse, which I never rode again. Kandi later broke Jo’s arm in the horse trailer and was thereafter sold. The doctor told me not to jump on the trampoline for six weeks, and my childhood fascination with cowboys began to fade for some unexplainable reason.
So, boys and girls, a Merry Christmas to you all, and a word of advice: When you ask Santa for a pony this year, be sure and specify that you do not want a widowmaker. It could come in handy.
Russell Anglin is the senior reporter for the Quay County Sun. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org