I sat down last weekend and made my Christmas lists. Christmas shopping. Christmas goals. Taking some inspiration from a blogger I follow–Karen at The Art of Doing Stuff–I decided that this year, I want to have my holiday obligations (the shopping, the wrapping, the decorating, etc) out of the way by the end of November, leaving December wide open for less-stress celebrations and evenings enjoying the season in front of a nice fire.
This year, I will be organized and intentional, and I WILL NOT be wrapping the last of my gifts on Christmas day before we load the car…again. I refuse.
Maybe it was the early first snow that kicked my butt into gear. Maybe it was Karen’s email about her Christmas pledge. Maybe it was the fact that my furnace chose the evening of our first snow to take a shit, reminding me very clearly and viscerally of what cold and winter feel like.
Maybe it was a combination of the three.
Either way, Winter, I’m here with you. To-do lists in hand.
The next day, the tiny remainders of snow on the ground reminded me to start prepping in earnest for winter. Barn chores expanded to accomodate. We put the fans and llama pools away for storage, cleaned up the barn aisle, and filled feed bins with grain. I tried to organize the feed room to make sensible space for horse and llama blankets, but ended up starting a deep clean and reorganization of the tack room. That’s the thing about to-do lists out here. They spiral.
I’m not quite prepped for winter. I don’t exactly have an organized tack room or feed room. I do have hundreds of hay bales put up for the cold…with a hundred yet to pick up and then stack. I do have full feed bins. I know where my water heaters are and, not to brag, but I managed to wash *several* of the dirty-from-last-winter llama coats over the summer. And no, I didn’t get the horse blankets powerwashed, but I did leave them slung over a fence hoping to find time and motivation to powerwash them long enough that they were rainwashed several times. It’s basically the same thing…except super eco friendly.
The to-do lists are getting shorter, and longer, and in the meantime, I’m out here living.
How often do I write about to-do lists on here? It seems like I keep coming back to them again and again, reminding you (and me) that despite their existence and unfinished nature, we need to give ourselves a break once in a while. To breathe. To treat ourselves as kindly as we treat everyone else.
Earlier this week, I was talking to John about the ranch, and he admitted that, while he loved it, there are days that he wishes it would sort of “go away” for a day or two. No animals to care for. Nothing broken or breaking and in need of being fixed. No expanse of buildings and land and creatures that need tending.
Every farmer and rancher I know would understand.
John went on to talk about how he wouldn’t trade this place for the world. Neither would I, of course, but I fully empathize with his thought process. I have those days out here myself.
Snow came again yesterday. I walked out to do chores and was greeted by 20 degree temperatures, horses and ponies wearing a layer of snow like a blanket, chickens who refused to leave their coop, and llamas who refused to leave their stalls.
Fortunately, John had fixed the heated pony waterer on Sunday. I had made some progress on the feed room as well. Items ticked off my lists slowly, and just in time, just as the season and its snow added to the chaos of my day to day life. Funny how that happens. Funny how the things that need to get done always seem to get done when it really counts.
The weather is here. The animals and I are tucking in. Soon it will be Christmas lights and fires in the fireplace while listening to Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate. And this year, I won’t be stressing over gift wrapping and last minute shopping…
And, if I am, if something that is supposed to be done by the end of November sneaks its way into December, then I will try to give myself grace. I will show the same kindness to myself that I try to show to everyone else.
And I hope you will too.
Happy Winter Everyone.