Trees are going up.  Lights are twinkling.  Menus are being planned.  Parties are in full swing. Giving is on our minds. Across this great big world, no matter what you celebrate, it’s the holiday season -  from big cities to suburbs to small towns to rural communities.

In our family, it’s Christmas. Growing up, our tree glowed with colored lights and candy canes.  Christmas pageants and plays afforded some slightly off-key singing. And Santa’s milk and cookies were always snickerdoodles. (Interestingly enough,  those were also Dad’s favorite.) It’s a time filled with memories, from the emotional to the hilarious, like the year our new puppies pulled the tree over by leaping for the aforementioned candy canes.

Now well into adulthood (ahem … dare I say entering middle age), we continue to count on those traditions and build new ones.  When Cowboy and I were newly married, Christmas was one of those times when when our families filled our home with the things we needed most like silverware, mixers, critter essentials, jeans, and boots. 

We are grateful for all of those gifts that helped to make our house a home.  We still treasure them.  I mean how many parents don’t blink an eye when you ask for four mineral block holders for your horses for Christmas?  Or horse steps so you can get your vertically challenged self closer to the saddle? (This last one is totally my issue by the way, not Cowboy’s.)

As we build on new traditions, we’ve begun to focus on experiences, like taking family to see a Christmas musical or hunting out the best Christmas lights, which also requires that the perfect mug of hot chocolate be brought along for the ride.

We’ve also become very aware of those that could use a little extra compassion, a helping hand. We’ve got amazing friends and family, and over time we have been shifting our gift giving to those organizations that need help to make this world we all share a better place.  It’s fun to see which causes friends and family care most about and donate in their honor.  Even our just-barely-a-teenager niece has gotten in on the act, finding an organization she thinks honors those she cares about.  Those moments are priceless.

Which brings me back to this world we all call home.  Let’s be honest, it’s been a tough year, especially if you spend any amount of time watching the news.  From natural disasters to man-made ones, to politics that have divided more than united, 2017 has made us all a little weary.  Our collective spirit could use a dose of holiday joy.

So when someone wishes you Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, Happy New Year, or just plain old Happy Holidays, let’s remember to take it with the grace and love it was intended.  We could all stand to give each other a break, and realize that when someone is wishing you a merry or happy anything, they are simply sharing their best wishes for you.  They are not entering into a religious or philosophical debate or argument.   They are purely wishing you peace, joy, memories, and giving - all of the beauty that comes with this holiday season.

When you look around the world, we could all use a little more love, humor, and kindness.  Share your memories, share your well wishes.  And above all, share the love. Happy Christmas and Merry New Year from our farm to yours. 

Tammy Ammon is a Somervell County resident, blogger, farmgirl, wife, and mom to a gaggle of fur-kids. She shares her rarely graceful, sometimes challenging, and always hilarious farm life on her blog – myfarmtasticlife.com. Contact her via email at tammyammon@yahoo.com.