Photo by Rachael Brugger
Even with Halloween at the end of October, it seems to me that November is the month that truly ushers in the holiday season. It all begins when families gather to share a meal—or in our case, a feast big enough to feed our army-sized family—and spend time with one another. This Thanksgiving gathering also holds the first of our family’s holiday traditions—decorating the Christmas tree.
With full tummies, we drag out the boxes upon boxes of hand-crafted ornaments, appliquéd stockings and homemade wreaths. (Our labors are often paid in full by the “right” to eat more, whether that be an afternoon snack, dinner, late-night snack or all of the above!) I’m often relegated the tasks of rearranging the tree limbs—not one of my favorites, but somebody has to do it—and distributing the ornaments. I hand out the less-fragile ornaments to younger children, giving the eldest kids the freedom to select and place their ornaments at will. It’s fascinating to watch the toddlers in the group light up as they retrieve each treasure for delivery to the tree, which they often leave hanging on the same limb as the one before. With garlands hung, the tree lit and tummies still full (remember, snack, then dinner, then snack again), those of us who have managed to stay awake sit down to play cards, with laughter and chitchat filling the room late into the evening.
These are the memories that stand out for me when I reminisce on Thanksgiving past; just as my first thoughts of Christmas turn to nights spent making candy and ornaments at my aunt’s house—the results of which get divided into tins and shared with the entire family. Blistered hands from pulling and cutting the creamed candy are hard-earned war wounds for bonding over, as is the sugar coma from sampling too many sweets along the way.
This year, take a step back, and look at the hustle and bustle that you go through to make this season bright. If you find there are traditions you would like to change, add or omit, get ideas on taking the stress out your holidays in “Home for the Holidays,” or learn ways to incorporate more of your family’s heritage into your celebrations with “The Heritage Holiday Hostess.”
If you’ve got the holiday schedule under control and want some revenue-stimulating ideas to mull over, consider opening a commercial kitchen for shared-use in your community (see “Cooking up Community”) or hosting a class or workshop to pass on your wealth of knowledge (“Share Your Specialty”). And if you’re still hungry after all this holiday feasting, stir up a pot of chicken soup, from scratch. Get step-by-step instructions for using your farm-raised chickens to make a delicious and hearty soup that will comfort you on any cold winter’s night. Whether you’re preparing for the holidays, planning for next spring’s planting or whipping up a batch of your favorite quick breads, this issue of Hobby Farm Home will leave visions of farmhouse bliss dancing through your head.