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Surround yourself with those you love at Christmas

Surround yourself with those you love at Christmas
Family makes the holiday in good and bad years

I have been alive for 63 Christmases and can actually recall 59 of them. As you might imagine, with that many under my belt, I have enjoyed them under varied circumstances.

I have celebrated Christmases when times were lean and the old, holey stocking would contain only some fresh fruit, nuts, and a few pieces of hard candy. At other times, under better economic conditions, it seemed like half the Sears & Roebuck catalog appeared under the tree on Christmas morning.

Surround yourself with those you love at Christmas

There have been Christmas mornings when I have awoken to six inches of freshly fallen snow, while there were others that allowed me to do the morning feeding in my shirtsleeves, while wading through sloppy mud. I spent one Christmas on the beach in Hawaii where snow was visible on the tops of the volcanic mountains a few miles off, as we laid in the sand at 80 perfect degrees; another in Starkville, Miss., where the closest thing to snow was the cotton trash that littered the roadside leading up the nearest cotton gin.

I've enjoyed Christmas feasts that included, quite possibly, the largest turkey ever grown in the western hemisphere, along with all the sides of: mashed potatoes and gravy, three-bean casserole, seven-layer salad, and homemade rolls so large they could have been mistaken for straw-colored basketballs. We've also had Christmas dinner that was simply hamburgers cooked on an outdoor grill. The weather wasn't the factor in our choice of menu, as much as our pocketbook.

I've been at Christmas get-togethers that may have been as large as 25-30 people that included my parents, sisters, nieces, nephews, and friends. I've also celebrated the holiday when it was just me and my new wife, by ourselves, before children.

Through the years, we've decorated the house from end to end with lights and tinsel and the prettiest tree that money could buy. But, we've also barely decorated some years with not much more than a Charlie Brown equivalent of a scraggly little cedar that I cut from the fencerow of one of the pastures. There was even one year when we didn't even have a tree.

At our farm, Christmas has come and gone for those 59 times that I remember, and what I remember most about every one of them was the excitement building up to the day, and feeling truly joyous and blessed as the day came to a close and everyone waddled to the table one last time to get one more plateful of turkey, or roast, or hamburgers; feeling like this year's Christmas was the best one we had ever had.

Regardless of the economic conditions, the weather, the location, the food, the decorations, or the size of the crowd, I have never had a bad Christmas. After all these years of celebrating the birth of Christ, I know that the secret is to be in the midst of people you truly love and who love you back, as well.

From the Crownover farm, Judy and I wish that everyone can be with people they love this year and every year. None of us are likely to be around for 63 more Christmases, so make every one count.

Happy Christmas to all and to all….

Crownover raises cattle in Missouri.

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