Heaps of snow in the Peace region of Alberta make it easy to visualize a “white Christmas” as I write this.  If I were to ask you about the top ten things that make a great Christmas celebration for you, what would you answer?

Most families that I work with want to maintain family harmony, or get back on track again as “a happy family”. Dr. Nikki Gerrard’s research of farm families found that one of the ways that families keep resilient or strong is through celebration.

Recently I met a family who decided it was high time to re-institute monthly Sunday dinners at the home farm. This was a chance for the farmers and non-farmers to keep connected as a family and have a real thread of conversation to keep “in the loop” about farm activities. Everyone is proud of their multi-generation farm, and they want the legacy of happy farm memories to continue.

Christmas for you, may be about making memories. Sometimes our expectations are not met, and yet we can still be content and grateful for the celebration that actually transpired.

Last Christmas in New Zealand, we were embraced by a farm family who gave us stockings filled with New Zealand specialties, a Church service, and a delicious meal.

The delightful part for the kids was seeing Gramps shoot a rabbit and skin it. This event was not on my list of “this has to happen to be a great Christmas memory” .

Sometimes we just have to let go, and live in the present moment. If you don’t have huge expectations of perfection, you might be surprised at the simple pleasures of celebrating together that bring you joy.

Richness in relationship is very important to me. That’s why I just took down last year’s Christmas photos that were encroaching on the wall space of a favourite oil painting. Folks come into my home and review the faces on the wall to identify themselves, or a connection to a familiar visage.

We are all longing for connection.

Gerrard’s research also showed that the more resilient farm folks stayed connected to their community and each other. Sadly, there are fewer “friendly” farmers, according to some interviews I have done recently with farm managers challenged to expand their land base. The older rural etiquette of treating neighbours with kindness and respect is being eroded. Folks who rent land for two decades are not necessarily the ones given first right of refusal to purchase the soil that they have nurtured for many harvests. Some neighbours don’t have time to chat anymore.

What kinds of connections are you longing for this month?

I smile inwardly when folks ask “Are you ready for Christmas?” as if it is badge of some weird martyrdom type honour to say “ I will never get it all done  !” Happy people really don’t care what the house looks like, and whether the cookies are off Martha Stewart’s recipe collection. Families are longing to linger at the table of hospitality and friendship. Christmas will come “ready or not!”

Sadly in our neighbourhood,  life-long friends have moved west, north to the city, and some have stopped calling for a visit. Maybe it is time to be intentional about re-connecting to family and friends. A phone call or text is so easy, yet so many people don’t decide to reach out and communicate the invitation to share life and make new memories.

Tips to celebrate connection this Christmas:

1.Invite a foreign student or single person from your community to share a meal , coffee or Christmas at your home.

2.Ask your local Christmas Cheer Board what day they need you to help wrap gifts, and donate practical gifts, especially for men. Help out at the Food Bank. We hope to help serve at the Christmas Day community dinner that serves folks who normally would be celebrating solo.

3.Bake cookies with your grandchildren and box them  in the freezer  for the parents as a surprise.

4.Go through the winter hat and mitts collection and see what you can re-cycle to the local thrift store.

5.Call a young mother (daughter in law) with your offer to spend 3 hours watching her children while she attends to some needed self-care. Blow out someone’s lane secretly!

6. Ask a widow/er if their family is coming home for Christmas. If she or he is slow to answer make sure you pick them up to spend time at your home.

7.Visit and be thankful for all the material gifts you enjoy as a very rich Canadian. Write a note of appreciation to each of your children for the delight they bring to your life, and why they are special to you. If the kids are causing you grief, write that child a letter of encouragement with your vision for their future.

8.Take out lots of great home decorating magazines from your library like “Real Simple” and re-purpose your pine cones, candles, and rose-hips growing in the ditch. Have some fun playing with natural objects and finding treasures buried in your home. The MALL  parking lot is way too crowded at this time of year, avoid the hassle of crowds, and enjoy “putzing” with what you already have.

9. Call your best friend who lives too far away and have tea with her while you both enjoy a chat on the phone or the delight of .

10. Celebrate fun things with your farm family. Cut the talk about business, and move the heavy decisions or family business meeting to the 28th of December. Decide to just be a family and let go of the business conversations for the moment. You are creating a legacy of good memories. The snow forts, pond skating, the sleigh rides, the winter marshmallow roasts, the log stacking…whatever your family decides to do just for fun’s sake. Do it !

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.


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Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
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Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
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James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
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Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
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Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
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“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

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