It was a warm day, and it was a special day.
It was my pony’s birthday.
Now let’s get some things straight. First off, he wasn’t my pony, per se. I was leasing him from a family in my 4H club who had little use for him. Second, I made his birthday up because I felt he needed one. Third, don’t judge me.
Anyway, it was Picasso’s birthday, and of course I needed to celebrate. Mom caught me skimming the Party Express catalog and quickly took it away, explaining that, being a pony, he couldn’t fully appreciate the themed decor and ten-dollar paper plate sets that the magazine offered.
Fortunately, I had a Plan B. Somewhere in my little mind I had decided, right after I started leasing him, that Picasso needed to love some type of chocolate. The first thing I tried to feed him was Reeces, and he liked it. So I was convinced that Reeces were from thence on his favorite food, and that he should have it at the end of every ride.
This became a headache for my parents, who would have much rather bought a bag of carrots every week than four packs of Reeces. They humored me, though… I don’t know quite why. It must be a parent thing.
So that day–Picasso’s birthday–I brought an entire bag of fun-sized Reeces peanut-butter cups out to the barn. My riding instructor was in the arena, view of his stall obstructed by a plethora of trees and cactai.
Which is probably good, because she would have just about died if she’d seen me and my fat little pony eat that entire bag of Reeces together, in the span of five minutes, for my idea of a birthday party.
Also, I sang him songs and brushed through his bushy little mane. Picasso was a charismatic Pinto with a swaying hay belly and a smooth little trot. It took me several months to get the leg strength to kick him into a canter, but when I finally did we could soar around the arena for almost two laps before one of us got tired and stopped. We were a team– he was old, I was young, and we both had an affinity for chocolate.
This was my favorite birthday party ever. Guest attendance, two. Chocolate consumed? Probably three dozen each. Coming home with a peanut-butter smear on my face and a pocket full of little foil wrappers? Priceless.
The night was several years later, a few days before Christmas. And I couldn’t hear a single thing.
We stepped out of the concert hall, deaf but on a total adreniline rush. The last song had ended with a chorus of famous singers and estatic fans alike. Toby Mac, Relient K, and Stephanie Smith stepped off the stage. It took us probably ten or fifteen minutes to sift through the crowds out of the theater and find our entire party again.
Once we had checked and double-checked that everyone initially in attendance was still in attendance, our group departed. Outside, our ears were still ringing but the snappy cold of the night helped us rise from a hazy stupor of bliss. We threw on our jackets and continued walking to get back to the subway stop that would lead us onto the subway that would take us back to our car so we could begin the long, midnight drive back home.
We got a little lost on the way, but a quick stop in a slightly-sleazy Chicago-style pizza bar to ask for directions and use the bathrooms and we were back on the sidewalks.
Apparently some other concert-goers had the same idea, because there was a large crowd of us waiting at the bus stop. We shivered and grinned and looked at each other and felt a mutal contentment at the smashing success of the concert.
The subway came and we all stepped on. Due to the size of the crowd we were all crammed against all sides of the subway, and only the few elderly (that had happened to be on the subway so late on such a busy night, not jammin’ out at the rock concert) people got the seats on the side. As for our part, we grabbed hold of the poles and tried to stay centered, having never ridden such a strange contraption before.
And at first we were wary of the other passengers. Stranger danger!
Until the whole subway started to sing.
Now I’m not saying we immediately rushed up and hugged every shady-looking person, asking if they’d like to mug us because man that rendition of Silent Night was just gorgeous.
But a few of the college students carrying signs and wearing the shirts of a church youth group broke (jokingly) into Jingle Bells.
And wouldn’t you know it, the entire subway followed suit.
That was one of the most magical moments of my life. There were probably a hundred or two people on that subway, all crammed together, from different walks of life. Some were concert-goers, some were unfortunate elderly people. Some looked homeless and some were buisness-people. There were babies and kids and teens and adults, none of whom had met before. And we all shared this moment of unity.
Well, it was really more like half an hour, because the carols just kept on coming. The college students tried to start some of the Toby Mac songs he’d sung at the concert, but not enough of the buisnesspeople or elderly ladies or homeless men knew them, so we reverted back to traditional carols.
For a moment in time, we were unified under the season. For a moment in time, we were one human race singing about the reindeer with a bright red nose.