The American farmer helps make the holidays bright

December 22, 2009|By JEFF SEMLER / Special to The Herald-Mail

By the time you read this, there will be less than three shopping days until Christmas.

While a little more controversial in our politically correct environment today, Christmas is a holiday where we can all agree to cherish family and friends and to be thankful.

Many folks my age can remember "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Through some checking I found it was the first prime-time animated TV special based upon the comic strip "Peanuts," by Charles M. Schulz.

Initially sponsored by Coca-Cola, the TV special aired on CBS from its debut in 1965 through 2000, and has aired on ABC since 2001.


For many years, it aired only annually, but is now telecast at least twice during the Christmas season. The special has been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody award.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" is also one of CBS's most successful specials, airing annually more times on that network than even MGM's classic motion picture, "The Wizard of Oz."

You might also remember the reason for Christmas given by Linus in response to Charlie Brown's plea, "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" He quotes the account of the first Christmas recorded in Luke's Gospel.

At the risk of offending, look at the audience for this proclamation, shepherds. First-century shepherds were nomadic and outcasts. They had little higher standing than the sheepherders depicted in vintage Westerns where they were the nemesis of cattlemen.

The shepherds, like their modern-day counterparts, farmers and ranchers, were taken for granted. Shepherds, like farmers, provided food for the masses.

Many more people in Mediterranean cultures eat lamb than the average American. It is the meat of choice for feasts, similar to our regard for the turkey.

Hence, as you and yours celebrate as you see fit, remember the contribution to your festivities that have been made available by the American farmer. In addition to your food, everything made from cotton, wool, leather or linen was made possible by a farmer.

So was your tree, your garland and your wreath - if they are not of the artificial variety.

So as I close, I would like to reiterate the words of Linus, "Peace on earth and good will toward men."

Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached weekdays by telephone at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by e-mail at

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