A Christmas wish list

Dear Santa,

It’s been a few years since I’ve written you, I know. In case I forgot, thanks for that Pound Puppy you gave me in 1986 and the cowboy boots in 1987, 1988 and 1989.

I hope this finds you and Mrs. Claus well. I can imagine the low fat, high fiber diet she’s got you on may not seem like it’s love, but she wants you to be around for another century or so. So, maybe cut her some slack. Besides, you’ll get all the cookies you can handle this Christmas Eve.

It may seem silly to write you, as an adult, considering that I can buy things myself now (with the help of Visa and MasterCard elves) but this letter isn’t about things I can wish for. It’s about hopes you might be able to help us fulfill.

I hope this winter’s El Niño weather pattern brings enough moisture to much of our Plains states so that we can recharge aquifers, bank some soil moisture and ease up on the drought declarations. Our farmers and our cattlemen could sure use a green spring without threats of wildfire over their heads for just one year.

I hope that this farm bill gets signed and implemented and farmers and their lenders can breathe easier knowing that there’s some certainty of a safety net. I know we didn’t get everything we wanted, but we got what we needed to keep farming for another year for the most part.

I hope that livestock and commodity prices can be a little more bullish next year, and that our trade issues get ironed out. Everyone’s willing to make a sacrifice for their country, but I also know that there are a fair few farm kids facing a leaner Christmas than their parents thought they’d have last spring.

I hope that we can keep the lights on in our rural schools, our rural hospitals and our rural main streets. Santa, they’re the foundation for everything our farmers and ranchers do on the land. It’s a lot like your operation up there at the North Pole. Some elves make the toys, some elves care for the reindeer, some pack the sleigh, and some are your air traffic control and tech support. Not everyone gets the attention, but everyone makes the operation go smoothly.

I hope that our rural neighbors who have chosen to serve, come home safe to their families from their time overseas helping protect others. And for those who have wounds both visible and invisible from wars recent and long ago, please wrap a little peace for them under their trees.

Santa, if you could bring us anything in that red velvet pack of yours, I wouldn’t ask for a new drone to fly a field, or a new combine or even a new pony. Instead, I hope you bring us a little more love out here in farm country. Love for our families, near and far—even the ones who donate to animal rights and bring vegan turkeys to Christmas dinner. Love for our neighbors and understanding of what their needs are and how we might serve them—even if we don’t always agree on politics or religion or the new football coach at Kansas State University.

But especially, if you could, wrap up some love for ourselves and slip it under the tree this year. Too many of our farmers and their families are struggling with depression, addiction and guilt over “shouldas, couldas, and wouldas.” If you had it in your power to grant any wish, this one I’d wish above all.

I’ve outgrown many things, Santa. Those cowboy boots have been long passed down to the next pair of feet, and that Pound Puppy is in a box in the closet somewhere. But believing in your spirit is still hardwired in my heart.

Give your pulling team a pat for me, and remind Rudolph to go easy on the take offs and landings—I can’t imagine jolts like that are fun on the hips and knees at your age. Safe travels, Santa. And if you can see fit to granting some of these, we’ll do our best to hold up our end of the wish list this next year.

Your friend, Jenni

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or [email protected].