Andrea Kientzy’s Holiday Advice from Years on the Farm
Andrea Kientzy, a Missouri beef cattle and row crop farmer, has learned that being flexible is what can make things truly memorable.
Food spills on the floor. The pie gets left in the freezer. Rolls get burned in the oven…again. Then dinner is held up because of farm chores. These things used to really irritate me during the holidays. I think most people can relate.
I grew up in San Bernardino Valley, California. Then I met my husband in Missouri and joined him on his family farm after we got married. We’ve been farming together now for 27 years. And I have learned something about being a farmer. When you’re constantly at the mercy of mother nature, you have to be flexible.
My personality is more Type A. I like to plan, and I always pictured sharing traditions from my childhood with my own kids. But farm work never truly stops, and sometimes we have surprises that cause us to pivot our plans. Last Christmas is a great example.
We had well below-zero temperatures with severe wind chill for days. That’s dangerous for our cattle for a variety of reasons. Their water supply will freeze, and they need additional feed and wind blocks. Cattle have natural insulation to keep them warm during the coldest days of the year but feeding them more helps them to maintain their heat as they chew and ruminant. So, my husband and son were going out every two hours on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day to care for them, break the ice, get them fresh water and feed them more hay to keep them comfortable. Obviously, our holiday plans had to change. Normally we have our big holiday meal at midday because it aligns better with our regular feeding schedule for the cattle. That day I had to make some adjustments. I estimated when they would be out doing chores, and in and out that day and shifted the food accordingly. I made a bigger breakfast, then a lighter lunch in lieu of the big meal. That would have really irked me years ago. But it all works out, and we still make memories and embrace the people and moments in my life, because I shifted my thinking.
I have slowly accepted after all these years that while things will not be perfect, they will be good. Now when I forget the rolls or burn the beans, I can laugh about it. When we have more or less people show up to celebrate with us, I just embrace it. I know I can’t force things to be like an IG feed or magazine. I create space and warmth for the times together we can have. Whether it is feeding and chores, a movie night with fresh cookies and popcorn, or games with my now adult children. My flexibility creates space for more happy moments and an inviting home. When I have happy moments, I feel grateful.
So now when people ask for advice about hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners in their home, here’s what I say: Nothing will ever be perfect, there will always be something that happens but embrace it. The thing that matters most is the people, moments and sharing when we are together. Around the table, the fire, or tv. Don’t fret no one will remember how nice the table looked but they will remember how they felt spending time with you. And when you’re pressed for time, don’t bother to clean your floors before your company arrives. They’re all gonna spill their food or drinks anyway.