We have always had a live tree except for one year- 1998 - the hog market didn't just crash it obliterated - there wasn't one-if you were to ask me I recall we were paying packers to take our hogs! They bottomed out for us at $12 per cwt and the cost to produce for us was $29 per cwt (thanks to cheap corn at the time-at least for feeding, but we also raise more than we feed - so while it was cheap feed we weren't making any selling corn either)- we had an artificial tree this year! This seems like a trivial thing to remember about such a rough year but it is always what comes to mind, makes it real, reminds me to be Thankful and puts things into perspective for me. We were lucky, Chris' parents had bought a new artificial tree several years earlier and still had their old one in their basement which they were more than willing to loan us. We have never spent over $40 on a live tree but that year the $40 was going to be spent on something that would last longer than a Christmas tree, it was never a question. I don't recall having to put up an artificial tree being traumatizing that year-lots of people put them up every year. But what I do remember is that that was the year that decorating the tree became the time that I evaluated my year.
Oh and we had an almost 3 year old daughter and I was preganant (math is not my strong suit, neither is remembering my kids' age - so I was wrong in the Indiana Prairie Farmer article) - I have looked and looked, I look every year at this time and I can't find one picture from that Christmas! I know she had presents, we got up Christmas morning and did our thing, we celebrated with Chris' family and my family but I can't find one picture that I took that year - I don't remember it being an intentional omission - I just must of not taken any.
I couldn't tell you what Casey got that Christmas but I know she opened presents from Santa and I know that Chris got me something-again I don't remember but every year I remember what Chris got and so does he-work boots.
Hog farmers go through work boots like nobodies business - hog manure eats leather work boots for breakfast, lunch and supper - Chris goes through 2-3 pair of good RedWings a year - that year he was still wearing the year befores pair- I kept insisting he buy himself a new pair and he refused - so I bought them - it may have been one of the first times I outright made a corporate decision on my own and carried it out! But I also remember being a little nervous about that decision, so instead of admitting I bought the boots I had Chris' parents leave them on the porch swing-and pretended I had no idea where they came from saying maybe his parents had bought them for him.
Every year he tells me that that is his favorite Christmas present ever - that and the years that I buy him nothing (cause that doesn't cost him anything)!
I am thankful at Thanksgiving for the life I lead, the people I am surrounded by-family and friends, our health, the country I live in but it is the weekend after Thanksgiving as we are putting up our tree that I am reminded and give Thanks that we have made it another year involved in Agriculture!