#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller
The Gift

What do you get for the woman who quite literally has everything? That’s a dilemma my friends and family face every year, I think, and may I say, they always do a remarkable job anyhow.

This year, I really felt that I’d had all the Christmas anybody could ask for, at the NFR in Las Vegas. My brother, Jerry, and cousin, Steve, along with his wife, Deb, had such a good time there, thanks mostly to the generosity of Steve Miller. Seeing them so happy, and enjoying the experience so much, meant more to me than anything that would fit under a tree. I truly believed that.

And then, yesterday, Jerry arrived here, with Mom, his wife Anna, and their three magnificent children, Jerome, Chyanne and Sydney. They were all being very mysterious–I was to stay in the kitchen, no matter what. No looking from side to side, even. The kids were sworn to silence. I wondered, what on earth?

When Jerry finally came into the kitchen, after much ado at the front door and in the living room, and put an arm around my shoulders, I still had no clue. With Jerry still supporting me–and it was a darn good thing, as it turned out–I stepped into the living room and there, by the tree, was my dad’s old saddle. I couldn’t believe it! I have many pictures of it, on Dad’s beloved horse, Peanuts. Dad and I used to ride together, even when I was little–I have pictures of myself as a two-year-old, sitting up there like I was Annie Oakley. His name–Skip Lael–is etched into the leather.

Well, I just burst into tears. As I’ve already said, I could not believe my own eyes. I knew it had to be that same saddle, and yet–how could it be? It seemed like a miracle!

Jerry tracked that saddle down, recovered it, and even built a sturdy stand for it. It’s hard to say which I treasure more–the love and effort it took to do what he did–or the saddle itself, and the memories it brings back.

Talk about your magical Christmases!

I’m going to stop writing now–wish you a very Merry Christmas and all blessings of the sacred season–and head on downstairs to admire that saddle in the glow of the tree lights. Maybe I’ll even forgive Jerry for burying my transistor radio in the backyard when he was ten. :)

Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, Jerry. The gift goes way beyond the saddle itself.

And I guess I’ve gotten along pretty well without that radio. :)

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas….

Well, the day before, anyhow. :)

As I write this, the sun has yet to rise, and my mind is turning toward horse-feeding. The tree is decorated, and there are wrapped presents tucked beneath it–and a few UNwrapped ones, as well, from me to me–a tooled leather make-up bag, stars and stripes boots, and two fantastic purses–3 out of 4 Montana Silversmith designs, by chance. I never got my cards set out, never mind writing my Christmas letter. There was just too much going on–or that’s the excuse I make to myself, alas. Around now, a lot of my sentences seem to begin with, “NEXT year, I will….”

Shop earlier.
Decorate earlier.
Get my Christmas letter written and my cards mailed out.

I think I said the same things LAST year. Why does Christmas always sneak up on me? After all, it’s on the calendar, clearly marked as December 25. What IS my problem? :)

Christmas will come anyway, of course. Thank heavens. For all the trees and the presents and the parties and the foo-fal-ah, Christmas is an event of the heart. Christmas is the quiet knowledge that God loved us enough to come down here, in Person, and show us how to live. Love Him, love each other. It all boils down to that. Why do we get so caught up in crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s? In the process, we forget the important part, keeping track of all the ways we fall short and all the ways others do. We’re so busy trying to follow rules, most of which we’ve invented ourselves, that we never Get It. We become Puritans, living in mortal fear that somebody, somewhere, is having a good time. Heaven forbid! This is Serious Business, living on Planet Earth.

Isn’t it?

Or is it a journey, a day trip, one we could mostly enjoy if we just relaxed a little and stopped trying to muscle God aside so we could run the show ourselves. (You don’t have to look past the 6 O’Clock news to see how THAT’S working out for us.)

Christmas–and every other day of the year–is about Grace. It’s about Love. It’s about Trust–believing that God knows what He’s doing, however things may appear from down here in the thick of the ant-hill.

He knows. He loves. He forgives. He is the Granter of second–and thousanth–chances.

That’s Christmas enough for this cowgirl.

Have a blessed one. And try to lighten up a little, will you? :)

Though the term “stick ’em up” is widely used in Western films, it wasn’t actually coined until the 1930’s.