I’ve lived many places in the Unites States and have never felt more at home anywhere than I do right now. In order for any place to feel like home, it must have a sense of community. It’s the interaction with other like-minded people that gives life meaning and enriches our everyday experiences.
This morning I literally walked into a Currier and Ives picture postcard, in our town of Bigfork, Montana. I was invited to “be an elf” and help decorate the small town we call home. This is our first Christmas to be living here, so this was a new experience for me, and what an experience it was.
With the sun up less than an hour, the air was brisk at 8:30am when we met at Elf Central to receive our assignments to decorate the exterior of the shoppes in our artsy community. Geographically, we’re so far north that our winter days have less than 9 hours of sunlight this time of the year. Winter has arrived and Koda was loving it!
In spite of the cold, I saw hundreds of smiling, rosy-cheeked neighbors, decked out in Santa hats, scarves and gloves ready to work. The smell of the fresh cut garland permeated the air as snow flurries fell on my face. In the distance I could hear Christmas carols coming from one of the shops. It felt like a Montana Christmas already.
For a town with a population of only 1500 people, I was impressed that more than 300 people turned out to hang freshly made garland, set up and decorate Christmas trees, and beautify our town with holiday decorations. Folks drove hours to join in and be a part of the festivities. I met one family who flew in from California to experience our small town holiday celebration.
Touched by the spirit of camaraderie shared between my fellow elves, there was no hierarchy, just a bunch of neighbors getting together to have fun and make our town beautiful. Just walking down the blocked off main street, the holiday spirit was palpable. Everyone was smiling. Folks gathered around the fire pit at the end of the street and shared stories and warmth from the fire. This is community at its finest.
From the free coffee and hot chocolate golf cart, complete with Schnapps and Baileys, to the garland trucks, the bow wagon and the hundreds of bright red Santa hats dotting our landscape, this is my community. This is home. This is our town.
I am overwhelmed by the feeling of gratitude I feel to be lucky enough to live in a place like this. Having lived in cities like Los Angeles, I’m especially grateful for this connection to Nature and to my neighbors. It feels like Father Time forgot Montana for the last 50 years- and I’m grateful that he did.
So it is with a full heart and chilly fingers that I sit by the fire and write this blog to you. I want to share this feeling of connectivity, of friendship, of community, and even of love with you. I wish each and every one of you were here to join us in this celebration of the season. But, in lieu of that, I hope that the photos and the words have somehow touched your heart and that you too can experience this in your own community.
I know it may seem a bit early but I want to be the first to extend a very happy holiday greetings to you and your loved ones.
Regardless of what holiday or tradition you celebrate, from our community to yours, may it be filled with joy, laughter, friendship and love.
Happy Holiday Hugs,