Thanksgiving to us as a family was always a low-key holiday, and it was always the same. When I was little, every Thanksgiving would start off by running through the house, trying to catch my dad before he left the house and asking if I could go hunting with him; but, just like every year, the answer was, “No, maybe next year.” Then he would kiss me on the head and walk out the door.
Looking back now, I realized that he was always surrounded by women, and it was probably a nice break from all of us to get out in the woods for a while. A little sad, I would drag my feet into the kitchen and hear my mom singing along to Christmas jingles on her Kenny Chesney CD and watching the parade on television while preparing the dinner. Eventually, my sister and I would be corralled into helping fix dinner or be put to work cutting ads out of the newspaper so my mom could later come up with a game-plan for Black Friday. This was the beginning to every Thanksgiving.
When you fast forward 10 years, you realize that things have changed drastically. I do not see my Papa and Uncle Curtis come in the door from hunting, just in time for dinner, and I cannot ask my dad if I can go hunting with him in the morning. When we all sit down for dinner together as a family, you think about all the conversations with the family members who used to be here. Conversations would include everything from old mechanic techniques, Navy adventures, hunting, and farming stories, as well as the reminders of the chores that needed to be done before the winter’s cold set in. At some point during the day, you realize what you would give to have the same Thanksgiving routine back.
On a happier note, just like in farming, changing of the seasons brings new life and new hope. Even though we lost a lot of family in the last 10 years, we have gained so many babies. Nowadays, you look across the room and see the babies with so much excitement and happiness in their little faces as they get to eat mashed potatoes and chocolate pie.
When asked what are you thankful for, most of the time people are going to say, “I am thankful for my family.” Well, I am one of those people — I am thankful for my family. The time with them is all too often taken for granted.
Growing up in an agricultural community, you see how much time farmers spend away from their families, and when the holidays come around, you see the happiness in their faces and voices when you speak to them as they talk about seeing their children and grandchildren for the holidays.
Within the last four years of being at Ferrum College, I have learned so much about agriculture. I have been actively involved with the Agriculture Club and Collegiate Young Farmers at Ferrum. I have been to numerous Virginia Farm Bureau Young Farmers events throughout the years. I have had the opportunity to work at racing horse farms, historic plantations, the Titmus Agriculture Center at school, and through internships with the Farm Bureau. I have been called crazy and told that I have lost my mind when I say that I want to get back into farming. It is an old family tradition that the last few generations have gotten away from. I have intentions of jumping back in where my grandparents left off, and I am more than ecstatic to see what my farming future holds. If your dreams do not scare you, then they are not big enough.
Jessica Banton is a senior at Ferrum College, where she studies Agriculture Sciences with an emphasis in Animal Science and Agri-business. She will graduate in May 2017 and plans to then start a one-woman cattle farm.