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Farm influences gifts under the tree

When almost 4 years old, our son’s Christmas wish list included a “tree cutter” (chain saw), a “bin site” (grain storage facility), and a “wiggle tractor,” (his description of a high-horsepower tractor that articulates, or bends, in the middle).


To his delight, he received toy versions of all of them.

Life on the farm influences the gifts found under the family tree, often itself decorated with ornaments shaped as cows, pigs, barns, and corn-consuming wildlife. I remember the Christmas when the men received sets of reversible ratcheting wrenches. They excitedly opened two same-shaped packages: one standard, one metric.


Our farm family often finds the best gifts the most useful ones. Lithium battery-powered tools, air compressors, and rubber boots. Deep-well socket sets, air tools, and a new set of pilot-point drill bits in a rugged case. In sarcastic wonder, my husband once unwrapped an extension ladder, rung by rung.


The women often appreciate practical items that make tasks easier in the garden and kitchen. The kids receive toy tractors, wooden toy barns, farm animal figures, and plastic fencing to keep those little livestock contained. A few years ago, our son unwrapped a rolling tool chest for storing Nerf darts and LEGO items in his room. For her room redesign, our daughter listed wishes for decorations with windmills, chickens, and sunflowers.


A new plat book from the county Farm Bureau office makes a great coffee table gift for every landowner in the family. Single sockets and hand-warmer packets give weight to stockings. And a set of well-fitting work gloves wrapped with a can of whole cashews provides a fail-safe gift idea for most any adult in the family.


By late November every year, I pull out the kids’ Christmas picture books, an annual gift from us that they collected through middle school. Several of the books share farm influences with stories set on tree farms and in barns or stables, including the original Christmas story that pairs with the kids’ nativity set.


The holidays bring another avenue to express the joy we find in farming. I confess to streaming Christmas music in the grain cart tractor in October to prematurely mix harvest and the holidays, a couple of my favorite things. No doubt, farm life will penetrate the holiday scene again this year. Wrapping paper alone gives away my farm fetish. The patterned paper with chickens, pigs, and cows in Santa hats reveals the gift giver before the tag does.


About the author: Joanie Stiers’ family grows corn, soybeans and hay and raises beef cattle and backyard chickens in West-Central Illinois.


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