Christmas Story- "The Stable At Midnight"

[This was shared with me and I’ve attempted to make sure that proper credit for the writings were included.]

Enjoy this poem and companion story!!

The Oxen by Thomas Hardy…

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock,
“Now they are all on their knees”,
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know”,
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

The Stables At Midnight by Anne Flyzik Schaefer

I have a true story to tell about midnight on Christmas.

It happened in 1991 or ’92. My marriage had ended, and I was leasing a farm as a boarding stable. I had around 20 horses at Christmas that year.

My son was then 5 or 6 years old and knew the Thomas Hardy poem about all the animals kneeling down at midnight on Christmas Eve. He begged and begged to go to the stable at midnight, but I put him off, not wanting to disappoint him in this year of so many disappointments.

You see, I had a lot of horses that did not like to lie down even in the wee hours of the night, including two mares whose owners told me they’d had those two for years and had yet to even see them off their feet. A number of the others would lie down, but would immediately get up when someone entered the barn or came near them.

Well, that Christmas Eve, Conor woke up at 11:30 and begged to go to the stable to see if it was true. My heart was a little heavy as we went down.

It was 11:59. We entered the barn at midnight, flashlight in hand.

EVERY horse was kneeling. We walked down one side and back the other. Every horse was kneeling; none got up.

None were flat on their sides, not even the yearling. And the two mystery mares were also kneeling; so were the track lay-ups who always jumped to their feet when people approached: every single one of them.

It was so hushed and quiet and beautiful.

The faith of a child….

Conor is 13 now and stands 5’10. He still says to me, "Remember that Christmas Eve when we went down to the barn to see if the horses were kneeling?"

It’s one of my most special lifetime memories.





  1. Dr. Dan,
    I was up searching for this legend. As a child, I BEGGED every Christmas Eve as a child for my parents (who also were oddly divorcing at a point in the years of my insistent pleading) for them to carry me to our barns so I could watch the animals (horses, etc) in honor of the birth of the baby Jesus. It never happened. With your post, I can live that dream vicariously through the story of you and of Conor. I hope you are well and happy and here’s wishing you the VERY best at Christmas time and always. I am about to forward this to my friend and veterinarian Dr. Joanna Tysor, now. She will LOVE this!
    Anne Haley
    Staley, North Carolina

  2. ADDENDUM…I just realized the story was shared, but no matter…the excitement was the same. Thank you again for sharing! WONDERFUL!

    Could you give me any information on Anne Flyzik Schaefer? I am a friend of hers from college and have been trying to get in contact with her! Phone number, email anything??

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