Hops and Skips

Christmas on a Horse Farm

For fifteen years of my life now, Christmas has involved some sort of travel. When I lived in New York, it was always coming back home to Nashville to spend Christmas with my family. When we moved back south, it flipped and became a trip back north to spend it with Colin’s. Last year when we had a three-week-old, there was no question: no travel—Christmas would be spent in our house.

But this year was back to travel for the start of what may be a multi-year quest for new Christmas traditions. Colin’s parents moved to Florida full-time, but, unable to bear a holiday away from family and one with palm trees instead of evergreens, they rented a house near his hometown where the immediate family could celebrate together.

This house ended up being an 1890s farm house on a horse farm. It’s had two modern additions—a huge kitchen and even huger family room—to total nearly 4000 sq. ft. It had its quirky bits (like unevenly hung toilet paper holders, unpainted wall patchings, and entire cozy rooms that had been sadly relegated to walk-through spaces), but overall it was phenomenal. We slept under hundred-year-old dormers and tiptoed across old, creaky floorboards, so as not to wake the baby. She played with toys by a roaring fire, and we shared meals around spacious tables. I watched the sun rise on Christmas Day, surrounded by windows with a mug of hot tea in my hand. It even snowed, briefly, one morning, and we strolled along the grounds, said hi to the horses, and tasted snow that had settled on a fence post.

As we’re currently in the process of buying a new house and moving our small family to a (potentially) “forever” home, this house reminded me how much I’ve always wished we could live so many different simultaneous lives—by the beach in southern California, where an early evening surf is a workday’s antidote; in a large city brownstone where everything you’d ever need is at your fingertips; tucked in a forest, with big modern windows, where you’re comfortably indoors, but nature is omnipresent. I know our impending move is the exact right house and exact right location for us—and we will take pieces of all our wishes and dreams to make it our dream home—but my goodness, what sweetness there is in tasting and testing those different lives, even just for a few days.

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