Andy Williams is already singing on my car radio and in every third advertisement on the TV and online as I write this in mid-November.
You know what? He’s right. Cheesy as the earworm may be, this is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.
But us farm folks have slightly different reasons to celebrate than “kids jingle belling” and “everyone telling you, be of good cheer.”
Here are the top 10 reasons farm folks consider this the most wonderful time of the year:
- Fall harvest is done. It may not have been the harvest we all wanted, but it’s in the bin. The rains and snow will come; we just have to keep faith.
- Hunting season is on. If you’re a hunter, or you’re acquainted with one, you know that sometimes even if you don’t bag anything, just the walk and the occasional weapons discharge are good for the soul.
- Fall cattle run is nearly done. Gathering, sorting, doctoring, weaning, and shipping is a lot of stress for cattlemen. The last slap of that trailer door before the driver pulls away from the load-out chute sounds better than a Christmas carol.
- Snow is on the forecast. Wheat farmers don’t dread snow days like someone in the city might. They’ve got four-wheel drive and a freezer full of meat. So, in this drought a few just might go outside and build a snowman with Ana in celebration.
- School vacations are coming. And that means your children are home and available for chore help. I think my folks kept a to-do list just for school holidays. “Deep-clean the laundry room and sort the coat closet? No, I’ll just wait until Jenni is home from school for a month.”
- Annual meetings. The last week of November and first week of December kicks off annual meeting season for the state’s farmer and rancher organizations. And while work gets done, there’s also a fair amount of socializing, yield-measuring and vacationing that takes place, too. Of course, there’s also Christmas shopping and trips to the big warehouse stores for holiday groceries. Take the good with the aggravating and be thankful, I say.
- Holiday meals. My dad wasn’t much of a turkey fan, but holiday hams? Those were his jam. Actually, the whole spread on the table was Dad’s reward for dealing with the table extensions and Mom’s chore list.
- Shop work. Colder days mean it’s time to work on projects in the farm shop. And some of you out there are pretty handy. Whether it’s building that flatbed for the pickup, or welding some art project you found on Pinterest, it’s nice to while away a day in a toasty shop now, isn’t it?
- Full cookie jars. Holiday baking is in full-throttle mode. That means there’s a new batch of something in the kitchen every day. And if you’re a baker like my mom, there’s usually a little set aside for immediate consumption while the rest is stored in the freezer for Christmas guests. Just don’t give yourself a bellyache.
- Family comes home. If you’re the family blessed to live on the farm and host your relatives from out of town, you know there’s something magical about holidays on the farm. Showing city cousins the barn kitties, sledding in the pastures with your high school best friends, hunting pheasants with your dad and uncles, or just sitting at the antique farm table and swapping stories over pie with the grandparents — it is so much more special than any Hallmark movie.
Remember, this season is more than schlocky movies and Mariah Carey coming out of hibernation on Nov. 1 to tell you “All she wants for Christmas is you.” It’s a time to pause, to reflect on the good, to gather those we love close and make memories that will warm us all year long.