December flashed in like a lightening bolt, and it seems before anyone could count “one-one thousand, two-one thousand,” the thunder is booming with New Year’s fireworks. I had been looking forward to that slow time of year — that time when farmers sit around the fireplace, watch old movies and eat bon bons. OK, I know, a pace that slow never happens — unless you break both legs and maybe an arm. But I was still looking forward to sitting around the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree in the evening, playing board games with the kids and making fudge a daily part of the menu.

Our December didn’t happen that way, though. Oh sure, our intake ratio of fudge to salad definitely increased, but otherwise our month was every bit as exhausting as the middle of harvest. Each weekend found us hosting another Christmas party. My favorite was our annual tree decorating contest. The shop was cleaned, the work benches lined with wrapping paper and a drop-ceiling of lights hung. Soon, the groups were bidding on random items they were going to use to create the “essence of a Christmas tree.” This year our auction included the Hoop Tree, the STEM tree, the Beauty Pageant tree, the DIY tree and the “Oh” Christmas Tree. Our brochure advertised them as such:

The Hoop Tree: Sir Mix a Lot may have been rapping about a ’69 Buick, but only because he hadn’t met this adorable little HoopTree. The bumper isn’t the only thing shaking about this rusty, dilapidated little soul. But together with a little electrical tape and love, he is sure to be brought back to his stardom.

The winning group of this tree found themselves the proud owners of three cardboard tubes from the baler rolls of plastic wrap, wire from some old row cover and a roll of electrical tape.

The STEM tree: This tree allows for experimentation, critical thinking and imagination while working together to create an award-winning solution. But the most important thing to remember is that while you may think you are familiar with STEM — tonight it’s more about “Stressing Together Entertains Many.”

The winners of this auction tree received a box of giant tinker toys.

The Beauty Pagent Tree: A former Miss Christmas Tree 2015, this stunning little beauty may be beyond the first blush of youth, but she is still spry for her age. She may be past the swim suit contests, but with a little makeup and glitter, she is sure to come back to some aspect of her former beauty.

Dead is such a harsh word — so the winners of this auction received a “formerly alive” Christmas tree from four years ago.

The DIY Tree: DIY activities are all the rage this year, often costing much more than it would have taken to have just bought the product, but it’s all the about the experience. Avoid the frustration of finding the perfect tree — and just build one that fits.

These auction winners were given a smooth, 15-foot branch hanging from the ceiling, a box of pine boughs and a drill.

And last there was the “Oh” Christmas Tree. A lovely little song of a fir tree makes you want to hum: Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree, you scream to cats “Destroy me!” Your lights are wired improperly. You start on fire randomly. Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree, next year you’ll be in a compost heap.

These auction winners received the only real tree of the evening.

The creativity and ingenuity this party brings out never ceases to amaze (and amuse) me. The evening passed with much laughter— especially when a life-sized snowman Olaf passed through during the white elephant junk exchange.

It was a good December, just busier than I would have preferred. My youngest son celebrated a birthday, we hosted three Christmas parties, attended a Mannheim Steamroller concert, along with Christmas plays and lights parades. We sold 500 Christmas trees, built wooden toboggans for all our nieces and nephews and wrote a Christmas letter that still hasn’t found it’s way to the mailbox. The letter, which started like this, pretty much summed up our year — including December:

Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen

Pour myself a cup of ambition

Yawn and stretch, it’s time to hit the grind.

Jump in the tractor and the oil starts pumpin’

Out in the field the baler starts thumpin’

With farmers like us in the field from 5 to 9.

Workin’ 5 to 9, it’s the way we make our livin’

Barely gettin’ sleep, between workin’ and some playin’

Keep that coffee pot full, just make sure it’s not unleaded

It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it.

So as the fireworks thunder in the New Year, our family wishes everyone a full coffee pot, lots of laughter and more sleep than we got in the previous year!

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