In my first book, Planting the Seed of Hope (2006) I wrote a “Gift Series”, and now here’s an updated version of some of those thoughts. I hope you have a chance to savour the joy of celebration with family. I hope you appreciate the many gifts you can share that cost time and intention, not money.

1) The Gift of Encouragement,
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Words of affirmation are my love language. I leap for joy when a handwritten card arrives in my mailbox, or a thoughtful reader sends me an email describing how my encouragement has made life on their farm better. If you’re not a “card person”, texting with photos of your story may be workable for you. Mark Twain once said, “A man can live for two months on one good compliment.” Use the tools around you to encourage your parents, your children, and your spouse on the farm as 2021 draws to a close. You have no idea what a boost that will give to those around you.

2) The Gift of Contentment
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8 NIV. The number of Canadians using food banks is increasing. Think about supporting your local food bank and Christmas Cheer folks or your church ministry to help the poor. I’m content to have holes in my running shoes until they get too far gone, and I don’t need new decorations. Many farm families have had a tough year. Reach out. Circumstances may be critical, but I believe God is still in control. “We can be content because God will never leave us no matter how tough the situation is.” Hebrews 13:5-6 (Msg)

3) The Gift of a Visit
In December 1996 it was easy to write about visiting, in 2021 we have a different story. Social distancing throughout the Great Pause and respect for health directives have separated folks into two distinct groups. If richness in a relationship is a high value for you as it is for me, you’re going to have to get creative to stay connected to family and friends. My go-to option since March of 2020 has been using my smartphone as a phone. Ha! You say. Yes. Some millennials only text and they don’t answer their phones. Whatever strategy you find, FaceTime, Zoom reunions, do it. Don’t expect the person you cherish is going to be around this time next year. If the Great Pause has any poignant lessons, one is that we cannot anticipate how awful it feels to be isolated or disconnected until we all have experienced it. Last December we organized a zoom reunion of cousins who had not seen each other for over 8 years. It was delightful. Write a list of people you want to bless with the sound of your voice. Pick up the phone. Organize the zoom video gathering.

4) The Gift of Laughter
“Love makes the world go round, but laughter keeps you from getting dizzy.” Victor Borge.

We were surprised to get our first Christmas Card in late November, but inside it was tucked 2 pages of cartoons, including a “Covid tree “wrapped in toilet paper streamers with disinfectant under the tree with a mask. A verse from Proverbs says that a “merry heart makes good medicine.” Laughter is the shock absorber that absorbs the blows of life. Do you have favourite jokes to share or a funny family memory that brings folks to tears? Log in a journal the funny things your grandkids say. Do little things to be playful like dancing in the kitchen with your spouse. Go tobogganing and have a winter picnic together. Pick names of family members to secretly shower with random acts of kindness. Buy plastic Grouch Marx glasses and wear them over your mask! I used to have a pair that made traveling really fun! Having fun is a cheap, legal, and happy way to live longer.

5) The Gift of Simplicity
One of the great joys for me in the past year has been getting my brother back in my life. He has returned to our home province, to Winnipeg, so I now see him more often. His approach to decorating is extremely simple. It’s a very large poinsettia from Costco which he handed to me and said, “There, your Christmas decorating is done, (for $20 !). I don’t like it when people ask “Are you ready for Christmas?” My take is that the celebration of the birth of Jesus is not about sending out cards, wrapping expensive gifts, or baking heaps of cookies. As you journey into the season of celebration ask yourself “Am I over-working and under-relating? “ Search the pondering of your heart this year, consider this question “Am I too busy achieving, collecting stuff, and not realizing that life is not about things?” Perhaps simplicity this season is compassion towards yourself, saying “no” to set boundaries on your time and clarify expectations. I value spiritual things over material things. Where is your real treasure? I intend to feed my soul with silence and also listen to great music. Embrace “less is more”.

6) The Gift of Presence
Many farm families who have connected to me this year are not looking forward to reminders their families are fragmented. One of the best gifts you can gift to strengthen harmony this season is to listen, really listen to what others are saying or not saying in their conversations. The Mental Health First Aid course has taught me that we need to approach people with empathy, not sympathy. It’s the ability to sit at the moment, listen, and be curious about what the other person is thinking, feeling, needing, and wanting. Recently as a young farm woman re-connected after a 5-year absence, and she thanked me for validating her feelings 5 years ago. “Elaine the best gift you gave me, was that you truly listened to me. “ None of us are perfect people. Perhaps the perfect gift you can give this season is your eye contact, a cup of tea, and a very focused listening ear.

If you‘d like to see more, order a copy of Planting the Seed of Hope. It is out of print unless you find it in a thrift store, as I did in the MCC store in Brandon Manitoba!


Elaine Froese helps farm families find harmony through understanding. Visit Elaine’s store or watch her new speaker reel.

Did you enjoy Gifts for this season that don’t cost money, just the currency of time? You might want to check these articles out too:

What is your model of forgiveness?
It’s okay to ask for help
Hiding Behind Your Advisors

Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

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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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“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
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Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
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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
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
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
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
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
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“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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