Normal 0 false false false

The holiday season is synonymous with family, and, for years,mothers, fathers, siblings and cousins gathered to celebrate and give thanks. However,just days before the start of this year's holiday season, The New York Timesreleased a lengthy, in-depth look at the size and shape of the American family- and how it no longer resembles the families of past generations. 

"Researchers who study the structure and evolution of theAmerican family express unsullied astonishment at how rapidly the family haschanged in recent years, the transformations often exceeding or capsizing thosesame experts' predictions of just a few journal articles ago," writer NatalieAngier stated in her piece "The Changing American Family," published in theNov. 25, 2013, New York Times.

Sadly, the study quoted by Angier revealed that the "traditional"American family - comprised of a mother and father, children and grandparents -is a dying model, found now only in dusty photo albums and Normal Rockwellpaintings.

But all hope - and family - is not lost. This Christmas, myfamily and millions of other Midwest farmfamilies will sit down to a holiday meal with mothers, fathers, sisters andcousins. Many farming families mirror my own, where generations work, live andcelebrate alongside one another. My husband and father-in-law work together ona daily basis. My husband has two brothers, both of whom live within 30 milesfrom the farm and continue to gather for Sunday family dinners. Chalk it up toChristian values, close-knit generations or greater emphasis on preserving thefamily. No matter the reason, as the traditional American family slowly removesitself from the landscape of big cities, family lives on many farms and remainsalive and well in rural America.

My own parents are a mere five miles from our house, and mysister and her husband also are less than a half-hour car ride away. It's arare week that I don't see one, if not all, of my family members, and it's notunusual to greet my in-laws during my morning run or while dropping my childoff at the babysitter - where he plays alongside his cousin.

Small towns keep families close, and growing farms andagriculture businesses give younger generations an opportunity to return home.As my own son grows and makes decisions about his future, I look to the farmwith hope that he, too, will make the decision to return to his family'spassion and pride and carry on the Sawyer farming tradition. Fingers crossed,my husband and I will be right here to work alongside him, and his uncles,aunts, cousins and grandparents will remain only miles away.

Few industries can celebrate families that have maintained thesame business - oftentimes the same home - for a century or more. Nearly 98percent of farms continue to be family-owned and, thankfully, the richtradition of farming has continued on the traditional family model.

Farming and agriculture have made many advances in recent years,but despite the family's changing landscape in other parts of the county, itremains consistent and largely traditional in the farming families across thisgreat country. For that, I believe, we can give thanks.


Katie Sawyer and herhusband, Derek, are fourth-generation farmers in McPherson County.Derek farms full-time and Katie works outside the home as a marketing manager.She is a member of CommonGround Kansasand blogs at her on Twitter at @Sawyerfarms.

st1:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;}