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By Staff | Jan 1, 2010

Driving 1,800 miles between central Illinois and west central Minnesota over three weekends to celebrate several family Christmas gatherings is a big change from the Christmases I remember growing up in the 1950s.

Back then, we drove 40 miles each way to my mother’s side of the family and that was as far as away from home as we got.

We traveled our 1,800 miles in relative comfort. The weather was cooperative for the most part once the storms passed. The roads and the car made the trip just a matter of time and gasoline used. We covered a lot of miles and had a lot of fun.

Some things have not changed. Plans for getting together are made and implemented. Everyone shows up about the same time and the event unfolds.

Church services and Sunday school programs have extra faces in attendance. Quick glances are made to see who is sitting near whom to try to determine whose family they are a part of.

The happiness and laughter of a family get together is still there. The food is good and abundant. It is a time of good will among men.

After several hours of food and conversation, people start leaving and that is it for this year’s Christmas. Even the Christmas music that was everywhere in the days leading up to Christmas disappears.

Having seen everyone, New Year’s Day should be quiet, and sitting still has a good sound to it. If the phone does not ring, then all the better.

We are a week into winter, which means the days are getting longer. That gives some small comfort when we look at all the snow on the ground.

This gets to be the time of year when winter settles in and we get accustomed to coats, caps, and gloves. The snow shovel has been moved from its remote place in the corner to where it can be reached more easily.

Diesel engines need to be plugged in to start. Anyone with livestock outside is thinking about water tank heaters and bedding. Being in a hurry seems useless because the snow and the cold slow everything down. It looks like a long time until spring.

Spring is a subject that is talked about. The seed for next year’s crop has been ordered. The elevator says it is time to get the fertilizer order in place. Even with snowdrifts everywhere, a person can see planting season has started to take shape.

For the next few days, our job will be to say good-bye to 2009 by paying those yearend bills and hello to 2010 by lining up credit to pay those bills that will arrive with another crop year. We have done it many years before so here we go again.

It seems the decimal point is shifting to the right a little farther each year as costs keep going up. Now if income can rise accordingly so we can cover those higher costs, it would all work out.

It’s all part of a cycle as things arrive and disappear into the past. Holidays come and go. A crop year ends and a new one begins. Loved ones are here and then they are gone.

We try to prepare ourselves not knowing what the future holds, but with enough faith to look ahead and hope for the best.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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