Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stewardship Of The Season

I have always maintained that the most powerful benefit of raising children on a farm is the opportunity to teach responsibility, and that lesson has particular significance during the holidays.

My childhood memories of Christmas are some of the most potent memories of my life. Trudging through the snow to select the most perfect Christmas tree in the mountains was just one of many family traditions. The silence of the hillside was broken by the crunching of the snow beneath our feet and, eventually, the screeches and laughter resulting from the snowball fights. Somehow, we always managed to find the perfect tree, and that night we would decorate it together while Brenda Lee sang out from the record player.

I remember huge feasts, extended family members gathering to celebrate, and the butterflies in my stomach as I awaited Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve.

I remember school Christmas programs when faithful parents and grandparents were tortured by the squeaks and squawks emitted from the horns of fifth and sixth grade students playing ironic selections like “Silent Night.” Santa made his appearance and doled out bags of peanuts, fruit, and candy to youngsters who were taught all their lives to avoid strangers but were now thrust onto the lap of a stranger with profuse amounts of facial hair and a gaudy red suit.

One of the particular highlights of the season was making gifts for family members. These treasures, fashioned by my utterly inartistic hands, included a glass bottle covered with macaroni and spray painted gold and a host of items like bookmarks and ashtrays that mercifully found a place in the back of my parents’ closet.

I recall the thrill of having a whole week off from school. I heard that some families went on trips during this time to visit friends and family. In our family, such trips were not possible because of the livestock that needed extra care during this cold time of year. I never recall any bitterness as a result of our “boring” Christmas vacations, though.

Actually, I believe that the lack of weeklong vacations and other amenities of those without livestock resulted in my satisfaction in my life today. City friends often ask me if I feel isolated, bored, lonely, or even bitter living out here with no easy access to the comforts they enjoy. I can honestly tell them that I do not feel that way. I am remarkably content, especially when it comes to celebrating Christmas.

Perhaps my favorite Christmas memory is going with my dad at first light on Christmas morning. As he backed the pickup up to the haystack, he would grin and say, “I think we’ll throw a couple extra bales on this morning. It’s Christmas, after all.”

That simple gesture of extending gifts to even the lowliest creatures on Christmas Day made quite an impact in my young mind, and it taught me that even on Christmas Day, good stewardship is of utmost importance.

The purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of the Savior, who was born among livestock.

If my kids ever ask me why we don’t vacation over their Christmas break, I will be quick to explain the many reasons why the best place to celebrate the season is right here on the farm.


Suz said...

As always, beautifully written.


Jenni said...

What a beautiful post.

I've often wished we could just spend more time at home during the holidays. We never travel anywhere, but it's such a busy time, and I feel we're always rushing here and there. I'd love to just stay at home with our own little family.

the reynolds said...

How true - we live on a dairy farm, so with daily milkings, any vacation is a tough thing to pull off. However my children gladly agree it's worth it all to grow up here on the farm. Those memories and lessonsof daily life will have far more impact on their life than the occaisonal vacation. We do get away though - my kids have been to Alaska, and the white, sandy beaches of Fl....God provides! Love your blog and Merry Christmas!

blessedmomto7 said...

WONDERFUL! I too cherish just being home. Love that memory about you, your dad and the hay, very sweet.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree, beautifully written. Sometimes it's like you've lived my life! You have a way of speaking to so many. Thanks Erin. I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas!
Robin in MN

Reddunappy said...

I agree wholeheartedly!! beautiful post!

Judi in Pa said...

This is a beautiful post. It could have been written by me (if I were so lucky to write so beautifully!) We too, milk and I'm trying my darnest to figure out a way to take my youngin's somewhere...someday. It will happen but for now, I am content to stay home because I love being home on this farm. It is far better than a vacation. Love your blog, Erin. I check it every day.

Country Girl said...

Wonderful post, beautiful memories and I must say that is a great family picture.

Simply_Pam said...

What a wonderful picture... life is about looking back and moving forward..Merry Christmas!

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