One thing I love about the Christmas season is the traditions that come with it. I think every family has certain things they do for the holidays; rituals that help make the festivities more vibrant and warm the heart and soul. My family has not been much different, although the only tradition that we have now that has been with us ever since I can remember is going to Midnight Mass (or as close to it as we could, which these days is usually 10 p.m.).
Our tradition for a while was we would make a smorgasbord of snacks and sit around by the woodstove alternating between eating, opening Christmas presents and watching whatever Christmas movie was on television before taking a nap and going to Mass. We would then sit up after we got home and enjoy a hot beverage, watching the Vatican Mass before calling it a night.
Christmas morning was usually lethargic, consisting of sitting around drinking coffee and opening the presents from Santa Claus. That was followed by Christmas movies and more food.
This year things were a little different, with it being the first year Grandma was gone, making everything bittersweet. But her house was as welcoming as ever as we restarted the tradition of hosting Christmas on the family farm, and I know she would have been happy to have us all there. We had a real meal and we didn’t really watch any Christmas movies. Before we knew it, the day was over, ended of course with Mass.
Time goes by so quickly. The deadlines of the newspaper have a way of marching your life forward without you even realizing it. I’m always living one week ahead of the real world in anticipation of the next newspaper to come out. It keeps life moving at a brisk pace and holidays and other events are here before you know it.
I think that is why, despite being excited for Christmas starting way back in November, it still managed to sneak up on me. The heat wave in the beginning of December, lack of snow and overall full calendar helped to distract me from my Advent preparations. As I drove around looking at lights a few days before Christmas, I couldn’t help but wonder where the year had gone. It seemed like just yesterday I was driving to the Midwest Farm Show in La Crosse in a snowstorm and here it is the beginning of January already.
Now as the Christmas season heads into its final days and I gear up for 2018, I always like to take some time to reflect on the retiring year. 2017 was unexpected, but I think every year is to a certain extent. I learned about some pretty cool things in the agriculture industry, talked to people who had a neat story to tell and listened to the struggles so many people in agriculture faced. I am looking forward to learning and listening more in the New Year, meeting new people and sharing their stories.
I am excited to see what I will be remembering at this time next year, while of course living in the present and making sure to take it all in now.
Although nothing is for certain looking into the future, I think it is less about worrying where things will go, but more about learning to deal with the unexpected events with grace and humility.
Here’s to 2018 and all it has in store.
Jenessa Freidhof covers news and writes feature stories in north-central Wisconsin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.