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Dairy Farming Mamas: 4 pieces of wisdom to survive the holiday season

Heather Moore for Progressive Dairyman Published on 11 December 2017
baking Santa cookies

1. “A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”Songs of Exile, Garrison Keillor

Winter is a struggle for me, as for most farmers, I expect. The time spent unthawing frozen pipes and hoses and waterers, moving snow, putting down extra bedding, feeding cows in the barn … it seems to consume every available hour. Add a few Christmas parties, a couple of 5:30 dinners in town, a quick trip out of town, gifts and Christmas concerts, and it gets overwhelming in a hurry.

One of the little enjoyments that comes with Christmas, however, is the small acts of kindness – dropping a few dollars into the Salvation Army kettle at the mall, holding a door open and wishing a “Merry Christmas” to another smiling shopper. Don’t take those moments for granted this holiday season. We all have so many stressors in our lives, but don’t let those stressors turn this holiday season into something you endure rather than enjoy.

2. “One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

Bring it back to the heart this Christmas. Instead of trying to impress people with fancy gifts that may never see the light of day, give practical gifts that you know they will love – warm socks, a package of your favorite cheese or another locally produced good, or even homemade cookies. That person will think of you when they have toasty toes in January, I can guarantee it.

3. “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss

Simplify your Christmas this year. Remember the important part of the holiday – not what is under the tree, but who is around it. Instead of heading to every single holiday gathering, pick half for this year and half for next year. One of our unwavering traditions is that we eat Christmas dinner in our house, at our table, with our nuclear family. Our children deserve unhurried traditions and time to be a family. Carve out some time this holiday season to celebrate with those closest to you, and connect with them. Even if Christmas dinner has to be delayed by the birth of a new calf, even if chores need to be delayed for an hour, make time for the people who make your life what it is.

4. “But as far as I'm concerned, Mary is always going to look a lot like Imogene Herdman – sort of nervous and bewildered, but ready to clobber anyone who laid a hand on her baby. And the Wise Men are always going to be Leroy and his brothers, bearing ham. When we came out of the church that night it was cold and clear, with crunchy snow underfoot and bright, bright stars overhead. And I thought about the Angel of the Lord – Gladys, with her skinny legs and her dirty sneakers sticking out from under her robe, yelling at all of us everywhere: 'Hey! Unto you a child is born!'”The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson

Especially on a farm, the best-made plans often go awry. Our cows always seem to get out on holidays, which makes us even later than normal. But even though the cows got out, and we’re not in our holiday best (because the cows got out) and the shirts are wrinkly, and one of the kids is crying in the holiday card photo and the gravy is lumpy, these are the holiday blessings that we don’t want to miss.

This holiday season, don’t get caught up in the stress of what has to be, of what needs to be. Instead, embrace what it is. Remember the real meaning of the season, and what we celebrate.  end mark

Heather Moore is a dairy farming mama herself, raising three little boys with her husband, Brandon. The Moore family has a 50-cow dairy and custom feeds 800 head of beef cattle near Maquoketa, Iowa. When she is not chasing around cows and kids, you'll find her volunteering, cooking and very occasionally, sleeping.

PHOTO: The Moore boys, Tucker, Cassidy and Cooper (now 7, 4 and 1), enjoyed an afternoon of baking cookies for Santa and treasuring the small moments of the holiday season. Photo by Heather Moore.

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