I can be thankful, even in 2020

Susan Manzke
Bob and Sunny checking fields after harvest 2019.

For the last week, I’ve been thinking about this column. I wondered if I could write about being thankful this year without Bob beside me. Well, after much consideration, I’m going to put forth my best effort today.

There were years in the past that were tough ones, too. Years where we lost parents and other close relatives. Somehow during those bleak days, my family found many things for which to be thankful.

In the 1980s, things on the farm front weren’t so great. Bob and I worked hard to pay the bills, sometimes juggling credit cards to keep going. While others lost farms, we managed to hold on by the skin of our teeth. Each holiday season, just getting to the next year was a blessing.

Now my house is very empty without Bob though I do feel him with me. I have many great memories that keep me going.

I just recorded on my blog about the time in 1988 when I was encouraging our children to munch on raw vegetables for an after-school snack. The complaints flew around the kitchen and noses turned up at broccoli and cauliflower, but they managed to munch a few carrot sticks, all the while asking for ‘real’ food. Finally, I thought they were mollified, Bob walked in.

My husband turned his nose up at the vegetables and said, “I hope I don’t have to eat cauliflower or broccoli today just because you’re bringing them to the potluck.” Of course, that ended any idea of the children trying more raw vegetables—it’s a good thing as they have matured, all have found a liking for salad and most raw vegetables.

I’m thankful I can sit today in Bob’s seat at the table. It gave me a better view as the renters harvested their corn from Sunnybook Farm. It’s the exact seat Bob used last fall to watch all the action taking place in the fields.

Grandchildren visiting the farm this summer was a blessing, too. Serenity, Wyatt, Arianna, and Eli in the cart bed.

Bob surveyed the combines, tractors, wagons, and trucks. He stayed at the table all day and even when it got dark. After the sunset, we had to turn off the inside house lights so Bob could follow the machinery lights as they crisscrossed our fields. He stayed there until the crew pulled out for the night, probably after eleven.

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without me mentioning how much our children mean to me. Bob and I must have raised them well. They might have tested us during their teen years, but they have turned into wonderful adults.

Even though my children don’t live on or near the farm, if I need anything, all I have to do is ask. As I write, we are figuring how we can have a virtual get-together for Thanksgiving. We plan on a Zoom internet connection that will bring us into each others’ homes. Even though we won’t be around the same table we will be sharing stories and laughter just the same.

I’m thankful for my pets. I have Sunny my dog and three inside cats so it doesn’t ever look like I’m talking to myself. My words are meant for the animals surrounding me, begging for my attention and treats. Because of them, I have to get up every morning and fill bowls with food—the cats don’t let me sleep in. Usually, about six, one or another is walking over the top of me. Car-E is ready to play as soon as I put a foot out from under my covers.

Susan and Car-E her rescued cat.

In January, I didn’t know if I could keep writing. I’m very thankful for this column and all the readers who asked me to keep going. You are my friends. You are my inspiration.

So yes, I can be thankful, even in 2020. I’m thankful for family, neighbors, and friends near and far, for food on my table, and a warm home. I’m also grateful for the Internet and Facebook. These modern connections keep me linked to everyone.

I wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. May you find your blessings as I have.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;