The coldest Christmas EVER

Staff Written Community

By Judy Gilbert

Excitement! Santa was bringing our youngest child, nine year old Curt a much wished for pony.  Bruce had picked up the little brown pony, Katie, from a farm in Monticello the week before, then we put him out to pasture at Granddaddy Gilbert’s farm, anticipating a perfect Christmas Morning.
Christmas morning! It was 1983, one of the coldest Christmas’ ever!    A call came to the house at 4 a.m. from a client, Dr. Richard Owen, about the circa 1850‘s house he had just bought from me.
Already panicked from getting a call in early morning hours, Dr. Owen brought the news that his furnace was out and his 90 year old mother was coming Christmas Day, and he said, “You’ve got to do something, we’re freezing, and mama will freeze! Its 4:30 a.m., and 0 degrees!”  
God bless Bruce, he can’t fix a furnace, but try, oh yes he would!!  Of course, we went by the hardware store and loaded up anything that might help us repair a furnace, then on to Pierce Dairy Rd.
A shivering Dr. Owen met us at the front door. We were covered from head to toe with anything we could find, but still blue, quivering and feeling kinda hopeless about repairing a furnace.  I know I had men’s socks as my gloves, I can’t find gloves on a good day.  
Thanks be to God, it was just the pilot light out, the good Doctor was a city boy, and Bruce just lit it, and then off we go to get Katie before the kids woke up without Santa or parents. Chris was 15, so we felt okay leaving them, but we needed to put out Santa’s gifts. It was a close call.
Have I said it was just way too cold? I have a great appreciation for farmers. In my mind’s eye, I can still see that poor pony as we pulled her in a cow trailer to our house.  
Her whiskers, mane and tail were frozen, her eyes shut to the cold, as we tied her up to a tree in the back yard. I wished I could take her with me into the house.  I rushed to the linen closet and pulled all blankets out of the closet, went back outside and covered best I could. 
When it was time for Santa, Curt found the rope tied to the bag of feed under the Christmas tree and he followed it outside to Katie.  She was prostrate on the ground, but she jumped up as Curt was jumping all around her, so excited to have a half dead pony, and I think all that jumping and whooping and hollering, warmed us all up!. In today’s world, the humane society would probably take that pony away from us and rightly so.
The joy on Curt’s face will always have a place in my memory, along with Katie’s face freezing in a cow trailer.
One little boy was so happy and Katie was petted, cared for and loved until we decided it was time to sell her and get a horse.  But, that is another story.

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