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Sarah’s first Christmas without her dad encourages her mom to think outside the box. Since Sarah is pagan, they decide to celebrate the burning of the Yule log on the Winter Solstice. They find the perfect log, but it is too big and heavy to bring to the house. Will these two strong women succeed? With innovation and the help of the mom’s horse, they bring the log up to the patio and decorate it. The next day, in the tradition of the Asatru, they drink Meade and brag. Mom feels empty while Sarah is happy. Mom has to find her place with God.


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“Put your things in your room, then let’s go to the woods and get our log.”

I worried that we’d not be able to drag the Yule log out of the woods, especially with both of us so defeated emotionally. Then I remembered: By damn, we were two strong women, weren’t we? We both vowed not to shed another tear over the man who’d deserted us. We got up, dressed in layers because it was cold outside, and we headed out.

Inside the dusty barn that smelled of sweet hay and horse manure, we grabbed ropes, halters, nails and a hammer. We walked out into the cool, crisp air and trekked to the woods to look for the perfect log. Of course, our curious horses followed us, along with three dogs and our pot-bellied pig that thought he was a dog.

Deep inside the woods, we spotted it, an omen that we were on the right track. Most fallen trees are long and thin, but this one answered the call of destiny. Obviously, the log used to be the trunk of a good-sized tree. It would definitely burn for twelve hours. However, we knew immediately that we would never be able to drag it to the house.

Fortunately, we had horses. None had ever dragged anything, so we worried that it would scare the horse and make it think the big thing behind it was chasing it. We had to choose the horse least likely to spook and try to run away. Sarah’s half Lipizzan had the strength to drag the log, but he also was the one most likely to turn aggressive if he got scared. The Hapsburg kings had bred Lipizzans to be warhorses, so they attacked rather than ran.

We settled on my black-and-white gaited gelding named Skywalker. The problem was, we had no harness and wondered if we could trust Skywalker not to hurt himself or us in the process of dragging the log to the utility patio. Also, how could we burn the log in our cozy fireplace since it was far too big and heavy for us to get it into the house?