Glittery, unscathed blankets of snow cover the earth. Lights cast a warm, serene glow upon anything within their rays’ reach. Bright stars glow in a clear sky, illuminating a vast landscape. The low sounds of livestock and varied sounds of night animals harmonize with the beautiful silence.
The otherwise common winter scenes occasionally combine to create one of the most magical, mystical Christmas calms I can imagine. To me, the idyllic scene epitomizes the purity, complexity, and meaning of the Christmas season. I feel stronger in faith and more peaceful in heart when I can witness such special moments.
Of course, as cattlemen and women, we know the reality behind the romantic image of a country Christmas.
The blankets of snow mean extra work to keep cattle well-fed and protected. Glowing lights often mean working outdoors after dark to catch up, keep up, or fix up. Bright, clear skies indicate bitter cold night temps. Cattle lowing cause a momentary heart rate increase as we assess the reason for their sound—are they out; bothered by a coyote; restless as a sign of weather changes?
Perhaps, the reason I cherish the quiet calm of a country Christmas evening is because Christmas for us, and most likely you, doesn’t include exotic holiday vacations or days inside filled with hot cocoa, a warm fire, and a good book.
Our Christmas celebrations hinge on tightly held traditions and how long the weather reasonably allows us to be away from the ranch. If we aren’t careful, the special magic of the Christmas season can get lost in the reality of daily chores and endless lists.
My husband and I attempt to balance the needs of our family and our business. We work to prioritize our family while balancing the workload of a cattleman’s life. Generally, our attempts fall short.
Though we try, our kids know we will be the last ones to church on Christmas Eve because of a “quick five-minute project”. They know we will marvel at Santa’s gifts, take turns opening family presents, and enjoy a special Christmas morning breakfast. Then, we will hustle through chores all the while praying we aren’t too late for Christmas lunch with family…either near or far depending on the weather.
At the same time, we value Christmas traditions like letting the kids decorate the tree, attending Christmas Eve church services with family, and spending time with our loved ones. We cherish the perfectly romantic scene with glittery snow, bright lights, and serene calm.
Winston Churchill once said, “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.”
I agree with the former prime minister.
A new year represents a fresh start. It’s about looking ahead, but the Christmas season provides us a ripe opportunity to reflect.
Is there still magic in the headache and hassle of our businesses? Have we been able to maintain our passion for an often-thankless calling? Was the journey of the past year right for the journey ahead?
Though we must each answer those questions for ourselves, I believe it’s important to remember our strength as a collective. Together, we can have a unified voice. We have the power to perpetuate the beautifully romantic notions of a cattleman’s life to the public all the while humanizing our work for greater understanding.
I’m not oblivious to the raw challenges we face in this industry. Our family endures and perseveres right alongside yours. Yet, I’m acutely aware of the beauty, opportunity, and necessity in what we do.
A Cattleman’s Christmas is my favorite kind, and I’m not sure we’d know how to act if Christmas (or any other occasion) wasn’t influenced by cows.
As you celebrate in the coming days and weeks, I pray you take time to appreciate the romance, nostalgia, and promise in the Christmas season! After all, as W.T. Ellis once said, “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”