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HOLIDAY SPIRIT: As you gather around the dinner table with your family and friends, remember those who are less fortunate and struggling, including other farmers.

Take a break this holiday season, count your blessings

Remember those who are less fortunate this Christmas and have a great 2020.

So, the other day one of my children asked me a very simple question: How’s it going?

In our chaotic household, getting that kind of question is very uncommon. I didn’t even know my kids realized a world beyond their own, let alone care about what their father is doing.

I should know better; kids are very perceptive, and they surprise me every day of my life.

I’m a blessed person, there is no doubt about that. But I never forgot where I came from.

This year has been a mixed bag for me. Personally and professionally, things are going well. This was my first full year as editor of American Agriculturist and I’ve enjoyed almost every minute of it (I’m human, not every day is going to be perfect).

For those who have sent me notes of support, thank you! And for those who have sent me hate mail, thank you, too!

In journalism, above all other things, you’re taught to do your job with no bias; you must be objective. I take that a step further by always telling myself to not get emotionally attached to a source or a subject.

But when I saw a recent story from The New York Times about farmers Frank and Sherry Hull, I got tears in my eyes.  

The Hulls’ story is a sad one. They have a 260-acre farm just north of New York City — Hull-O Farms — which has been in Frank’s family for at least 240 years.

They’ve transitioned from what was once a very successful dairy farm to one focused on agritainment with farm stays, corn mazes, hay rides and Christmas celebrations. But now Frank, 71, and Sherry, 67, can’t do it anymore. Farming has become too much for them and neither of their four sons want to take over. A son that they thought was likely to take over died in a car accident in 2010.

The land is the Hulls’ retirement. They don’t have anything else, according to the article, and they haven’t taken a vacation in 48 years.

This reminds me of my brother-in-law when he had dairy cattle in Somerset County, Pa. We never saw Nathan and his family during the year and when we did see him it was just for two hours on either Thanksgiving or Christmas.

They milked their cows just before hitting the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Christmas morning for the long trek to see family. A quick dinner and a few laughs later, the family were back on the road again to the dairy farm, quickly getting back to milking and chores when they got back home.

I always admired by brother-in-law for his hard work and dedication, but I always felt lucky to be able to relax and enjoy my day off. He and his family now raise beef cattle and it’s still as busy as ever, just not as regimented as the dairy farm. Maybe this Christmas we’ll enjoy their company for more than two hours.

That said, I hope Frank and Sherry Hull also have a nice Christmas and get a well-deserved break.

Bottom line, wherever you’re going this Christmas and New Year’s, remember those who are less fortunate and take time to appreciate how lucky you are.

I know, you’re probably tired of being told that it’s been a tough year, but I think that in order to truly enjoy the good times you have acknowledge the tough times. Things always do get better; sometimes it takes a little time to see it.

In the meantime, enjoy your Christmas and good luck in 2020!

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