My Christmas in The Country Memories Are Your Memories, Says Veteran Ag Journalist Sam KnippWed, 23 Dec 2020 09:09:23 CST
Christmas Eve spent far away from home in South Viet Nam. A horse-drawn wagon full of kids beneath warm blankets on a snowy Christmas Eve in northwest Kansas. Feeding cattle on a cold, clear Christmas morning.
A search of my Christmas in the country memories compiled from more than 45 years of telling the story of agriculture revealed many of my memories are actually your memories.
My earliest Christmas memories revolve around life on the western Kansas farm and ranch. The house was always filled with the noise of six brothers and sisters, the aroma of cinnamon rolls and baked ham, and frequently a snowflake or two.
After returning home from Midnight Mass mom and dad would hurry the kids off to bed while they played Santa in the front room.
Sometimes during the cold dark night, we would hear a crash and boom. No, it wasn't Santa and the reindeer. It was a drunken neighbor crashing his car into our fence as we lived along a major road.
I was just a small boy, maybe 10 years old, when I received my first gun, a single shot bolt action 22 caliber rifle.
And of course, feeding the cattle took priority before opening any gifts.
Most gifts took on a utilitarian function. Clothes, socks, books, things I could actually use.
Which is exactly what Freda Biddle of Okmulgee, Okla.., told me was special for her growing up on the Oklahoma farm. She specifically remembered the peacefulness, gentleness and joy of Christmas.
Billie Gibson was flying combat missions in South Vietnam on Christmas Eve 1968, far from his home on the Ada, Okla., ranch. After delivering a load of hams and turkeys to hungry troops he remembers sitting down to a festive meal prepared by nurses at Cam Ranh Bay in what was then South Vietnam.
A rancher in northwest Kansas, sorry I can't remember his name, told me how he and his family would hitch up the horses to an old wagon, crawl under some warm, scratchy wool blankets while mom and dad steered the wagon to an old country church on Christmas Eve.
You would often tell me the gifts you remembered best were homemade, a rag doll or a wooden, hand carved horse. Maybe there would be an orange, some hard candy or a harmonica.
No video games, cell phones or laptop computers were ever found beneath the Christmas trees of our memories.
A Perry, Okla., farmer said his favorite gift as a child was a whistle made from an empty brass shell cartridge sent home by his older brother who was fighting the enemy during WWII.
Searching for the perfect Christmas tree was a family affair. A cedar tree was the choice for many High Plains country families. Believe it or not, cedar trees were hard to find in the 1920's southern Oklahoma when the late George
Stone and his family searched for a tree. That was a fact they were proud of as George said his dad hated cedar trees and considered them a weed.
Cutting down a cedar tree and bringing it in the house on Christmas Eve, decorating it with popcorn and other homemade ornaments. Then, taking it down the day after Christmas because it was not safe to leave the tree in a house warmed by a wood stove.
As an adult, a former colleague of mine in Kansas gave me a copy of a Christmas poem written by the late poet Edgar R. Guest. The poem focused on the fact that Christmas is a time for giving, but he would actually want to take away some things-. the pain in our hearts and bodies. The poem ended with God bless us all this Christmas Day, give us strength and take our bitter grief away.
So that is my Christmas wish to you on this Christmas 2020, a year like no other. Focus on the light, take away the dark and God bless you one and all.
For the Oklahoma Farm Report, I'm Sam Knipp.
Click on the listen bar below to hear the audio of Sam's Christmas in the Country memories.
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