I remember receiving some really amazing Christmas gifts as a child. One especially stands out. It was a beautiful wooden jewelry box with delicate painted flowers on the front. It was a gift from my grandparents, and it wasn’t just a child’s jewelry box. In fact, it was so lovely that I remember walking up to my room just to look at it. I still have it today and hope to have it my entire life. It will always be a treasured possession. It was probably one of the very best gifts I had received from them.
As we approach Christmas, I want to encourage you that the very best gift you can give this year is to look beyond yourself and your needs. This was something I talked about during my speech at the Minnesota Farm Bureau Banquet this past month. I shared my heart for agriculture advocacy. As a dairy advocate, I want to build community. As we look at our community, often we think about what we need and about how the community needs to change to meet our needs. I think this is the wrong perspective. As we look to the needs of others and the community as a whole, it is then that paradoxically our needs are met. As Princess Kay, I get to share how as dairy farmers we are meeting the needs of our communities. I am getting the opportunity to share your story, but it is only through your hard work that I get this opportunity.     
As we enter the holidays, I know it can be a stressful time for everyone. We can get overwhelmed by our responsibilities as dairy farmers and that can seem to get in the way of all the festivities. We can wish that our vocation didn’t require us to be out there doing chores every day, seven days a week. But, this is a moment where you and I can think beyond ourselves and see the work we are putting in is a gift to the people around us. Without dairy farmers there wouldn’t be cheese on the cracker platter, milk in the fridge, butter in the Christmas cookies, whipped cream on the pies, and cheesecake on the dessert table, the list goes on. Our work is a gift to each of our neighbors this Christmas, and every day, whether they are next door or hundreds of miles away.     
We can also give the gift of looking beyond ourselves at our holiday gatherings. This is a time where we can choose to share the good things that have been happening on our farms and in our lives. It is a moment to choose to look beyond negativity and bickering. The work you do as an unofficial agriculture advocate within your own sphere of influence has a lasting impact. Ultimately, it helps to bring us together within our families and our communities. It causes us to be stronger together. Finally, it causes the greatest gift exchange ever: each of us looking beyond ourselves towards the needs of those people right beside us.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
    Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Amy Kyllo, serves as the Minnesota dairy community’s goodwill ambassador. Throughout the year, Princess Kay helps people understand the dedication of dairy farmers to wholesome and nutritious food, and the way milk is produced. Princess Kay does many school presentations, represents dairy farmers at the Fuel Up To Play 60 events that are held in conjunction with the Minnesota Vikings, and is very active during June Dairy Month sharing the importance of dairy farming and dairy foods. Amy grew up in Byron, MN living and working on her family’s dairy farm. She is a senior at the Association Free Lutheran Bible School. She enjoys music, loves to read and is an avid Minnesota Twins baseball fan.