When my mother was sick and dying, my older sister, Cathy, did a lot to help take care of her. She ran errands, cleaned her house, changed her bandages, and so much more. Unfortunately, many times, my mom was not very appreciative toward Cathy.
Sometimes the ones who we count on the most we treat the poorest. Obviously this makes zero sense, and I chalk my late mother's behavior up to her not feeling well and to the pain killers and medications she was on because, for the most part, she was very grateful in spirit.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I challenge myself, and you all, to pause and give thanks to those who we rely on. My guess is that we all have treated others not how we want to be treated in return for various reasons.
Sometimes we get so reliant on people that we forget to say please and thank you. Sometimes we even forget to ask them, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
Friends, I’ll say it again: sometimes the people around us — the ones that are doing the most to help us and the ones we lean on — are the ones we are treating the worst. This happens in households, yes, but also on farms from coast to coast, and I’m not even sure why. So, let's stop and re-evaluate how we have been treated and how we are treating others, too.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that this big world that we live in can be scary, the future is unknown, and there simply isn’t enough kindness to go around. So spread kindness — go out of your way to thank your employees. Bake banana bread for your mother in-law. Take your spouse breakfast out to the commodity barn. Treat your kids to strawberry shortcake for breakfast or even a morning to sleep in. Thank your tribe.
Always treat people how you want to be treated in return. The Golden Rule has seemed to escape the societal norm — but love, respect, and kindness are values that never go out of style. Tuck them deep inside you and carry them everywhere you go.
I realize this Thanksgiving is different than any other. Many of us will gather around a smaller table. Let's show our thanks in a different way by making those phone calls to check in with our elderly friends and family. Bring a plate of goodies out to the employee break room. Or simply give a kiss and hug to those who you live with.
Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.