Dec. 6 2019 09:30 AM

    Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.

    Last year, 100 of my neighbors and friends got together to celebrate our first Farmer Christmas. We had so much fun, we’re doing it again this year.

    There are a lot of farmers out there this year feeling pretty grinchy. Winter is coming, some of us are still harvesting, our finances aren’t getting any better, and with the recent news of Dean’s bankruptcy, everyone is on edge.

    Can you blame us? Christmas is a hard time for a lot of people, and this year you can add farmers to that list. Missing family gatherings is something we’re painfully used to, but it seems to sting a little more around Christmastime. On top of that, there are many farm families worried about the expenses that come with presents, traveling, and extravagant meals. From a current farmer and former farm kid, I’m here to tell you don’t. Don’t stress over the presents; don’t make the extravagant meals; and please, try not to think about what should be.

    Chances are, your kids aren’t going to remember getting their first iPad, but they’ll definitely remember the Christmas that you all took the afternoon off to go sledding. Personally, I’m hoping to convince my brother to let me drag him around on a sled behind the four-wheeler. Instead of cooking a whole ham with 17 side dishes, make a new tradition of soup and grilled cheese. Have a fireplace? Roast marshmallows and make s’mores indoors! I know from personal experience that the smiles and laughs have lasted longer than any toy did.

    We had fun activities for all ages.

    Come join me
    Last year, I wrote an article similar to this one. At the end, I announced that I would be hosting a Farmer Christmas party for those in my area involved in agriculture. And guess what? I did.

    One hundred people came with their food, games, and Christmas spirit. Not only was it a fun day with friends who I never get to see, the anticipation of the whole event gave everyone a month-long break from their normal worries. I’m writing this article to tell you that it’s not too late to host your own. The only invites I sent were via Facebook and word of mouth.

    I invited local ag companies and representatives, got table service, and some fun kid toys were donated. I organized four people to bring main food dishes and asked everyone else to bring a side dish or dessert to share. Another farmer even offered to split the rental cost of the hall, which was discounted because of our cause. The morning of the event, a dozen people showed up to hang lights, set up a tree, and spread around some random decorations. For five or six hours, we ate, laughed, sang along to the Christmas playlist, and just had fun. Your party doesn’t need to be on Christmas. This year, our celebration will be the Saturday after, but just do it. Do it for New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, or President’s Day. Ask a few people to help you organize it and invite anyone you want. Give people a reason to smile.

    Just remember that Dr. Seuss said it best, “‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!’”

    Jessica Peters

    The author dairies in partnership with her parents and brother at Spruce Row Farm in Pennsylvania. Jessica is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and since 2015, she has been active in promoting dairy in her local community. You can find her and her 250 Jersey cows on Facebook at Spruce Row Dairy or on Instagram at @seejessfarm.