Christmas is just a few short sleeps away, and if you can imagine, my house is bustling with the excitement and anticipation.
Our kids are seven, five, four, and three, and it’s been so much fun experiencing the holiday season through the eyes of these sweet little ones. Making it extra special, this is our first Christmas with our newly adopted son, Alexander, so celebrating all of the “firsts” together has been such a treat for all of us.
In the next couple of days, we will squeeze in as much joy, merriment, and reverence for the birth of our king as we can.
We will set out the milk and cookies for Santa. We will gather around the three to open presents. We will snuggle on the couch to watch Christmas movies. We will feed cows together on Christmas morning. And we will roast a prime rib to enjoy with family.
Of course, there’s Christmas Mass at our beautiful church, and after, we have organized a festive parade outside of the nursing home where my grandmother lives. Our goal is to bring smiles to those who are shut in and alone on this special day. We started this last year on a whim during the pandemic, and it was such a hit, we want to make it an annual tradition.
But even as we prepare for a joyful and memorable Christmas weekend, I’m mindful that for so many, including myself at times, the holidays can be very difficult and very painful.
Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one this year. I have, as well. The pain of that loss is unbelievable, and it becomes even more poignant during the holidays where their absence is so prevalent.
Or maybe you or a family member is struggling with ongoing health issues. It’s so very hard to feel merry if you’re spending the holidays in a hospital.
Others may be experiencing the loss of careers, economic opportunities, or the farm. I’m seeing so many herd dispersals in our area and across the country right now. If you’re saying goodbye to the cows this winter, this may be a very difficult chapter to see come to an end.
For many, getting together with family members may be extremely stressful, especially at a time where it seems our nation is so deeply divided on so many issues. The strain and stress may be causing anxiety and worry.
For others, the rising prices of food and fuel may mean the Christmas festivities are extra lean this year.
Maybe you are overworked and stretched thin at your job and feeling overwhelmed and unappreciated.
I realize, this is just the tip of the iceberg of challenges, hardships, and heartbreak that so many people are feeling this holiday season.
If you are experiencing feelings of loss, hopelessness, sadness, stress, and worry — I know I can’t take it away. I can’t write something poetic to remove the pain or rush the grieving process for you.
But I want you to know, in this beef cattle industry, we are a big family. We take care of each other, and we want you to feel happy and whole once again.
So here’s to finding joy this Christmas, even if it feels impossible. Here’s to feeling hope for the New Year that is quickly approaching, even if you’re not sure what the looks like right now. Here’s to feeling peace in your heart, even if there is strain in your family relationships. And here’s to feeling love — love for your family, love for yourself, love for your friends, love for your neighbors, and love for the life you are creating through all of the ups and downs that come with it.
Merry Christmas from my ranch to yours! May you find peace, joy, love, and hope this holiday season!
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.