Thanksgiving and Family

Farm Life

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and with it the beginning of the dreaded family holiday get togethers. Now – hopefully this is not the case for you and your family, but statistically the holidays are a stressful time for many.

My hope today is to encourage you on how to possibly make the holidays the center of your family year. 

I (Ben writing here today) am the oldest of ten kids. 

Yes, ten kids. 

I don’t know what my parents were thinking but I didn’t get a vote (lol). As we have all grown up, several of my siblings have moved away, joined the military, started businesses, and started having families of their own. 

Because we have the cows to tend, Kristen and I host an annual Thanksgiving sibling family get-together every year here at the farm. We always roast ducks instead of turkey (here’s Kristen’s recipe) and share a big meal together as a family. 

You would need to know that my siblings are a lot like myself – independent, borderline workaholic, passionate, and not very good at relaxing and sharing space with a crowd. 

This family culture was a recipe for holiday stress when you would pack all of us together for three days and nights in one space on top of high levels of sugar consumption. 

Sprinkle in some politics or past family drama and by the end of the holiday everyone was happy it was over. I could tell that this wasn’t sustainable and if nothing changed in a few years everyone would probably move on to their own thing.

So brainstorming began on what could be a family activity that would bring everyone together. 

Enter: the Thanksgiving go-kart race!! Every Thanksgiving for the last three years the highlight has been the go-kart race. We built a dirt race track on the back of the farm and everyone builds and enters their own custom homemade racing go-kart. 

Rules have been made on a maximum budget for the build, engine size, and necessary safety features. Coming from a family of gearheads who love building things this has been the perfect family tradition. 

All year, anticipation builds for the race as everyone works to get their machines ready to go. This has built incredible camaraderie among everyone as several of the siblings have shared their knowledge on different areas of expertise. 

By now the anticipation of the race is reaching a frenzy and the trash talking is reaching epic proportions.  :) 

Everyone has a role, even if they aren’t in the race. Siblings take on filming or interviewing the racers, planning the national anthem, etc. so we can all participate. It’s loads of fun!

The race is also a huge win for the ladies, since by the time the race is over on Friday the guys are so emotionally and physically exhausted that they are happy to watch the kids while the ladies go black Friday shopping.

The race does have its hazards especially since the winner last year was hitting almost 50mph, but the joy and anticipation is well worth the cost and time spent.

I would encourage you to take some time and think about what fun new family tradition you could add to your family that would increase family camaraderie and the anticipation of being together. 

Not everyone is going to be as mechanical as us but each family culture has their unique strengths. Some suggestions would be:

– a baking competition

– card tournament

– best home-brewed beer

– popsicle stick house construction

– multi thousand piece puzzle

Take charge this year and see if you can reclaim the fun in the holidays!! 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

– Ben


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