Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family, to remember to be grateful for the little things, and to eat until you’re miserable. But as people in the agriculture industry know, those first two can be difficult.
Farming or ranching can take a lot of time, energy, and dedication. There’s rarely time for holidays and vacations — especially now as we get closer to winter and as the South is suffering a horrible drought. It makes things difficult. But I encourage you to take the time to enjoy yourself this holiday season. Especially at Thanksgiving, find at least one thing to be grateful for. One of my favorite quotes is: “Look for something positive in each day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.” To me, that is Thanksgiving as an agriculturalist summed up. Sometimes it is hard to see the positives past the drought, past the market prices, past all the little, and sometimes big, things that add up to make this lifestyle a difficult one. But it is possible.
Two Thanksgivings ago my family looked hard and found positives, in a seemingly dark situation. My father was in the hospital receiving chemotherapy for leukemia. That seems like a horrible way to spend Thanksgiving, but we tried not to view it that way. We all found our own positives. For my mom it meant that cooking dinner was a breeze (extremely generous people brought us a real Thanksgiving meal). For my brother it meant that he got to sleep in because we weren’t banging around the kitchen cooking. For my dad and me it meant that we could watch two football games at once, because there were two TVs in his hospital room (I mean we are from the South).
But for all of us, it meant that we got to be together and that’s all that mattered.
Last Thanksgiving was a very different scene. My family gathered at our house to eat the traditional meal, but one very important seat was empty. My father passed away June 26 from complications from leukemia. While we struggled, we still found something positive. My father and I had started a farm while I was in college. We were expecting calves to be born in January, but we were surprised the day before Thanksgiving last year with two beautiful and healthy Belted Galloway heifer calves. This is something that would have made my father incredibly happy, so it helped us through the holiday. It made us feel like he was still with us, in some sense, during the holidays. It also gave us the excitement we needed to stay involved in the agriculture industry through our struggles.
That is what the holidays are about to me, spending time with family. So I encourage you to take time out of the field, the barn, the pasture, or wherever you are and sit down with your family. Then I challenge each person find one positive thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. And as always, remember to thank the farmers and ranchers who made your Thanksgiving meal, whatever it might be, possible. Without them we wouldn’t be able to eat until we’re miserable.
Michelle Bufkin is the student recruitment coordinator for the College of Agriculture at Auburn University. She is a 2016 graduate of that same college, in Agricultural Communications. She also “helps” her mom run a small cattle operation in Autaugaville, Alabama.