“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.” The words of this song take me back to my childhood and our yearly Christmas traditions. In the Stuckwisch household, celebrations began at the Christmas Eve program hosted by my church, where my siblings and I, along with our classmates, belted out Christmas hymns and celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ.
Then, we would head home that evening to eat dinner and open presents with my grandparents. Later, we would head back to church for our candlelight service and get home around midnight to get in a few hours of rest before I would wake up the family just five hours later to see what Santa had brought us.
However, the morning became quickly interrupted as the needs of the farm would sweep my dad away for a few hours to take care of the usual chores. During this time, my mom would keep us entertained by making breakfast. We watched a Christmas movie and played with our new toys.
Nevertheless, these few hours of farm work were simply another part of our usual family traditions. Early on in life, I was a little annoyed at the fact that these hours interrupted our family celebrations and that my dad had to leave for work, yet again. As I got older, however, I quickly began to realize how special these few hours were to my family.
Growing up in a farm family meant that usual plans, special events and regular life often got set aside for the farm. The animals had to be fed, pens had to be cleaned and, during some seasons, tractors had to be in the field. There was no other option — the farm had to be tended to. Yet, it became apparent that this unique lifestyle allowed my family to live and celebrate a totally different way of life: farm life.
Farm life meant that early mornings and late nights were the norm. This also meant tired eyes and exhaustion filled our home. Yet, those eyes were also treated to beautiful sunrises, breathtaking sunsets and millions of stars that could be seen almost every night.
Farm life meant that games, events and other extracurricular activities couldn’t always be attended by both parents, but it also meant I got to take special trips to the field to bring Dad food. Farm life meant that while early morning Christmas celebrations may have been interrupted, our family could celebrate the life that God brought our family through the farm along with the birth of our Savior.
While my family traditions carry the usual opening of presents, singing of hymns and consumption of way too much candy, I’m blessed to have the extra-special tradition of those farm chore interruptions. Being a part of a farm family carries its unique struggles. However, it has provided my family with a special celebration of agricultural life that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Stuckwisch is the 2021-22 Indiana FFA Southern Region vice president.