The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year. Each year, I look forward to the joy Christmas time brings; the falling snow, lights and decorations, and time spent in the kitchen preparing goodies for the season.
As a little girl, singing Christmas songs in the barn, especially “Little Drummer Boy,” was my absolute favorite part of the holidays. One year, I finagled an empty ice cream pail and tied it up with baler twine to hang around my neck as my own drum. Along with my drum were two uneven snapped twigs for my drum sticks that I found in the lawn. As the song came on the radio in the barn, I would grab my ice cream pail and sticks and play along to the “rump a pum pum” of the carol as I marched down the alleyway of the barn with a wide smile on my face. I look forward to the same joy that I had back in the barn when “Little Drummer Boy” played over the radio.
The joy found in the holiday season brings people together. Whether it be friends, family, neighbors or a whole community, the Christmas season allows us to spend time with the people who matter most to us. Over the last month, I saw the joy found in bringing people together.
I joined Minnesota Farm Bureau for the annual meeting banquet. I was able to visit with Farm Bureau members from across the state and speak at the special event. The evening consisted of celebrating a meal together and, after recognizing the outstanding members from across the state, a fun night was held with dessert and games. The night was full of great conversations and appreciation for the agricultural community.
Next, I joined Minnesota Farmers Union at the 81st annual convention. I visited with the children and read some dairy story books to them before lunch. As we gathered, lunch was served with foods grown from Farmers Union members. After lunch, I was able to speak, pull door prize winners and join in on great conversations with members. It is in events like this that people are brought together to share ideas and have a good time.
Finally, I spent time with a kindergarten class from Lower Harriet Elementary School in Minneapolis. The students enjoyed learning what a dairy farmer does each day on the farm and how many important people help care for our cows to get dairy foods to their tables. The students especially loved learning about taking care of our calves, and they were so amazed to see the comparison between a calf bottle and a human baby bottle. After the presentation and questions, students were excited to go home and share, for their homework, what they learned throughout my visit.
For me, the center of any of my holiday celebrations is dairy. Whether it is listening to Christmas carols in the barn while milking cows or dairy foods placed in the center of the table surrounded by family or friends, dairy gives an unmatchable feel to the holiday season. The Christmas season gives us a chance to put smiles on people’s faces. That may come in the form of a quick visit with someone or spending time with those closest to us surrounded by foods that bring us together. Here is a recipe to share for your gatherings this year. Happy holidays.

Chipper bars
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter, melted
       Mix all ingredients. Save 1 cup. Pat into a greased 9-by-13 pan. Then, pour 1 can sweetened condensed milk mixed with 1/3 cup peanut butter over crust. Top with reserved 1 cup mix and 1 cup chocolate chips. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

Princess Kay of the Milky Way Rachel Rynda serves as the Minnesota dairy community’s goodwill ambassador. Rynda grew up in Montgomery, Minnesota, on her family’s dairy farm. She attends University of Wisconsin-River Falls, studying agriculture business with a minor in dairy science, with plans to assist farmers with their finances. She enjoys participating in sports and singing in church with her dad.
Princess Kay is active doing school visits, representing dairy farmers at the Fuel Up To Play 60 activities in conjunction with the Minnesota Vikings and sharing the importance of dairy farming and dairy foods at appearances across Minnesota.