Not all horses eat apples. This was a heartbreaking realization for me, as my entire childhood was filled with dreams of sharing apples with my horses before we took long, rides through rolling pastures. Today my dreams are still to take long rides through rolling pastures, but no longer do I picture my herd running happily toward me ready to nibble red and greed apples from the palm of my outstretched hand.
In fact, I own two horses that generally turn their noses up at apples or any treat that is not peppermint. On rare occasions, Star will give apples a chance if they are cut into thin slices. Atticus just plain walks away or spits them out. If I offer a treat that is apple flavored, both Star and Atticus will turn their heads in search of something better.
Winn Dixie is whole other story. She will scarf down any apples that are offered and scoops up those refused by her herd-mates. How could I have been so wrong about apples and horses?
Have you ever pictured giving something to someone and knew it was going to be perfect, only to have them reject or refuse the gift?
Why does it hurt so badly when our gifts are rejected? Why is it so difficult for us to digest that what we thought was just right doesn’t resonate with the recipient? Why don’t all horses like apples?
The answer to these questions is simple. Sometimes our hearts are in the right places, but our minds are on different trains of thought than that of the one we are trying to gift.
While I don’t plan to carry on treating all of my horses with apples, I do plan to continue to offer them healthy feed. While I won’t always get an enthusiastic response from every person for whom I give a gift, I still plan to give of myself, my time, and my talents. Sometimes my efforts will not be appreciated or received with gratitude. Many of my attempts to help will fail abysmally. I just can’ t give up on giving, and I have to put myself in the place of the other person to understand where the giving went wrong. Maybe it wasn’t the gift at all, perhaps it was the timing, or a trigger reminding them of tragedy, or maybe they just aren’t happy and there isn’t a gift that going to make them happy. Whatever the case may be, I have to keep an open heart and mind when it comes to caring for others through my actions and gifts.
As we are still recovering from the Christmas holiday and approaching Valentine’s Day, keep these charitable thoughts in mind. Give with love, compassion, humor, and sincerity. Receive with gratitude, appreciation, and an open mind. Not every gift is going to be just right and not every “Thank you” is going to sound thankful. It is the act of giving and receiving that we make connections and learn about one another.
Not all horses like apples. Not all men like cars or guns. Not all women like roses and chocolates. Not all kids like footballs, clothes, or baby dolls. As you prepare to give, be sure to give consideration for what makes the recipient of your gift unique. Show them you care by giving something that reflects their quirkiness and idiosyncrasies. As you receive presents, put energy into loving the giver and gratitude for their efforts and intents.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Thank you to the teachers at I.C. School for sending home the 2 bags of bruised apples. Winn Dixie will be in heaven for a while.
P.P.S. I am a woman who likes roses, chocolate, cars, guns, AND apples.