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Christmas Letter, 1890
I feel so blessed this Christmas 1890. Our little man, Jared, is three and a half. The twins, Charlotte and Lillian, are healthy, happy, and rambunctious six-month-olds. Just last week, the girls cut their first two teeth. They were cranky and fussy at the same time, and their little pearl bottom teeth came through at the exact same hour of the same day. Miraculously, they stopped crying at the same time too, thank goodness!
So, Lottie and Lilly are back to their normal baby-sweetness. Lillian is the more patient of the twins, while Charlotte loves to make her presence known. Lilly is also more of a Daddy’s girl, lifting her arms and breaking into a slobbery smile whenever Riley comes into the room.
I understand Lottie perfectly. Mother says that for all my size (and she insists I was no bigger than one of the twins when I was born), I hollered just as loudly as little Lottie, and every member of the Carter family rushed to fill my needs as quickly as possible. (This is a picture of me at 8 months.)
Even Katherine picked me up and carried me around until I fell asleep on her shoulder. Mother said I had everyone wrapped around my little finger and screamed if I didn’t get my own way.
Yes, well, uh . . . Lottie is a cookie cutter “me,” while both Jared and Lilly take after their patient yet strong Daddy. I’m sure as they grow older, the twins will give Jared a run for his money. I don’t let Lottie run the house with her cries. Sometimes when she’s especially impatient for someone to see to her entertainment, I simply plop her in her crib. She does not like that at all. I think she’s figuring out how to wait much faster than I ever did. Maybe she won’t stamp her foot when she learns to walk, which Justin told me plainly that I did. At least a few times. But Mother took me in hand, and I guess I stopped that behavior plenty quick. I can’t remember anything about stamping my feet, but I’m going to be strict with both girls.
Jared, at three and a half, is and always will be “our little man.” He rides Coco like a pro now, and Riley needs only saddle his little birthday pony (the pony he received a year and a half ago for his second birthday). He rides all over the ranch with Riley, much the same way my brothers rode after Father from the time they could stay in the saddle, which was quite early.
Sometimes, Riley takes Lottie and I take Lilly on horseback. With Jared able to keep up, we have enjoyed many horseback rides this fall, although Jared is looking a bit frustrated with Coco. He wants a horse that will do more than walk and trot (shades of Mama!). I’ll let Riley make those decisions. I suspect he will let Jared ride a full-sized horse much quicker than Mother and my brothers let me ride anything bigger than my own Coco (but Riley always let me ride his black gelding, Midnight).
Memory Creek Ranch seems to have come into its own this year. It’s taken four long years to see if the ranch might actually pay for itself. Maybe Riley can cut back on the long hours he puts in helping Chad on days when he can get away from our own spread. Working for Chad has been a real blessing these past four years. Without the extra money, we would be in very bad straits. Riley and I can’t run Memory Creek on our own, but hiring three cowhands to help out has stretched us to the very limits of our finances.
Sometimes, a stray thought bounces around my head that it might be nice to live on the Circle C and let Riley take over his Uncle Sid’s main foreman job. For sure, Chad has hinted more than once, even while we were courting. It would be wonderful to not have to worry about how to make ends meet. But my sweet husband can be just as hard-headed as my brother. Riley wanted his own place, and the 1,000 acres deeded over as our wedding gift from the family overwhelmed Riley with gratitude. But it also made him more determined than ever that he would be his own man. And honestly, having our own place has helped me build a lot of character. No longer the sister of the wealthiest ranchers in the valley, it’s been tough not being able to have the things I used to take for granted. But I agree with Riley (when I think it through and don’t get scared about losing a fine-looking colt or bull calf) that it’s fun being on our own. Best of all, the family does look out for us. Chad has offered Riley the best bulls and stallions from the Circle C as breeding sires to improve our own horses’ and cattle’s bloodlines. That’s a gift. I’m sure my family wants us to succeed.
So, it looks like we are on our way. For now, anyway, for which I give thanks.
The only thing I wish . . . if I could have anything I wanted for Christmas . . . is for snow! I remember the snowy Christmas when the Carter family spent the holiday at Father’s old hunting lodge. Oh, the snow! But for now I will just have to remember the snow I enjoyed and be thankful we do not live way up in the Sierra.