This Soils and Streams column first appeared in the Dec. 8, 2018, issue of the Kearney Hub.
Forget holiday fuss; focus on gratitude
Holidays are not super high on my list of priorities.
I don’t require the biggest meal of the year to happen on the day of Thanksgiving. Everyone should have the opportunity to eat three times a day, every day.
Decorating, shopping, wrapping, and “The Little Drummer Boy” everywhere — this isn’t the substance of Christmas, and it would be OK if I skipped all of it. With five kids, though, that seems a little unlikely.
I love my family, my husband’s family, and the family that we have together, but it’s fine with me if we gather all together on a Wednesday in July, and a Monday in October, and any days between the two.
One thing I can get behind: Gratitude taking center stage at the holidays.
Over the span of a month, giving thanks gives way to giving gifts and then — in well-organized households unlike my own — to the giving of thank-you notes.
Gratitude has become a sort of buzzword. “Thankful, grateful, blessed” is everywhere — autumn-themed apparel, door hangers, Facebook profile photo frames.
It’s funny, but even when gratitude comes with conditions, it’s still genuine. For example, I’m not a huge fan of being cold, but I’m no less thankful to live in a place with four distinct seasons.
I’m a member of a MOPS group that meets at our church five miles from any town. MOPS used to mean Mothers of Preschoolers, but, much like KFC, now it’s just initials.
The monthly gathering itself is something I appreciate.
We MOPS moms get to drink coffee, consume snacks made by Someone Else, engage in devotions, and talk to non-work-related adults while another Someone Else occupies the kids’ time.
What mom wouldn’t appreciate that?
The national MOPS organization develops and distributes a complete program from video discussions to a kids’ curriculum. One segment this year: Gratitude.
Part of the gratitude video encouraged a 14-day texting project. Our group paired off and, each day for two weeks, exchanged three things we are thankful for via text message.
The purpose of this, according to the video segment expert, is to encourage happiness. Two weeks of intentional gratitude can lead to six months of increased happiness, she said.
Everyone has their moments of optimism and pessimism, and I’m not sure I can tell a difference in my overall happiness level, but I did enjoy these exchanges. I don’t love talking on the phone, but texting is my jam.
Our gratitude project coincided nicely with Thanksgiving, and because of that, I felt extra-alert to possible things that were out of the ordinary — items that couldn’t smack of lip service no matter how they were conveyed.
Thanksgiving afternoon, I caught my husband outside watching his freshly weaned calves — this after he had already watched his freshly weaned calves two hours in the glow of his pickup headlights the evening before.
As much as he enjoys growing his crops, he loves cows and calves so much more. I am sincerely thankful for his ability to make his passion also be his job.
We could literally rename the farm Needmore Land and Cattle. Not only is that accurate with his sensibilities, it’s accurate with reality.
We eat beef from critters Jeremy raises, and that led me to think about the Thanksgiving meal prepared for our family of seven. I can often pin down details about the food on our table, and this was no exception.
• To Kochis Farms at Matheson, Colorado, thanks for sharing the wheat that provided the flour, ground by my mom, for our Thanksgiving bread.
• To Dewain Lockwood, thanks for growing the chokecherries at the Kimball farm; they made the substance of our jelly.
• To Jamie Hart of Monte Vista, Colorado, thanks for growing the Yukon gold potatoes we ate.
• To my cousins Steven and Christina Platt of Huntley, thanks for sharing your apples for our apple crisp dessert.
• To the turkey producer (and Loomis Turkey Day, and the donor of our particular turkey, Cross Diamond Cattle Company), thanks. It was good. My grandpa raised turkeys in Cass County, and according to my dad, turkeys are dumb. It’s not up to me, but turkey growers ought to rank among the saints.
• To Countryside Market in Bertrand, thanks for making the potato bologna. High five to the late Charlie Johnson for creating a good recipe.
If I had remembered to heat the frozen corn, I could have added my husband’s dad, David Nelson, to the Thanksgiving producer list. He grew the corn; I froze it. But I forgot, and we still had plenty of food on the table.
We gave thanks over corn with our leftovers instead.