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Home Front: An unfamiliar line in an old familiar tune rings true.

John and Kendra Smiley

November 27, 2020

2 Min Read
male farmer holding son in field

I enjoy music. I was raised in a household filled with music. My mother sang as she cooked each meal, and my older brother and sister were part of a jazz band that met every week in our living room. My brother, the piano player in the group, used to accompany me (his baby sister) while I made up silly songs. Music was a big part of my growing up.

And the music didn’t just happen at home. As I entered junior high school, I sang in the choir there, and as an adult, at church. Before long, I was organizing groups of younger kids, encouraging them to sing.

Lately, I’ve been singing Christmas songs. You know, songs like “Deck the Halls.” That particular song, in fact, has been ringing in my ears — especially this one line: “Fast away the old year passes, hail the new year, lads and lasses.” The lyrics encourage us to greet the new year, seemingly, with a smile and some level of enthusiasm.

I’m certain the reason Kendra has been connecting to that one line of the song is because she is personally glad to see the year 2020 from the rearview mirror. There were different areas of success and lack of success in the year that’s now nearly behind us.

As far as farming, Mother Nature received an A in our area this fall. The machinery didn’t receive as high a score as the weather, but things could have been worse.

First, I’d like to personally thank John for not expanding on that machinery grade. And there’s one more category for the year 2020 that did not achieve a positive ranking. I think I’ll call it the “stress level.”

Obviously, COVID-19 caused a great amount of stress all across our nation. Almost everyone knows of a friend who dealt with it personally, or dealt with a family member who contracted the infectious disease. Sadly, this stressor was very far from receiving a passing grade. And although COVID-19 was not a factor on our farm or in our family, the stress level was higher than we like because John’s “hired man” (that’s me) was under the weather.

It’s one thing to have a day or two of not feeling up to par. It’s a totally different matter to realize you haven’t felt great for a week or two. The basic tests ruled out COVID-19, so that was a relief. To this day, we’re unsure about the cause, but we’re very thankful for the positive changes — changes that continue to occur on a daily basis as my “hired man” returns to good health once again.

Fast away the old year passes. That’s right, goodbye, 2020! Hail the new year, lads and lasses!

John and Kendra Smiley farm near East Lynn, Ill. Email [email protected], or visit The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

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