Priceless Christmas Joys

This year I am fortunate enough to be able to go home for Christmas for the second year in a row after starting my real, “grown-up” job. This may not seem like a big feat to some but between my limited vacation days and the location of my hometown, it has proven to be a difficult task. You see, my hometown is located in the very northeastern corner of the state of Montana – 15 miles from the Canadian border and 25 miles from the border of North Dakota.Plentywood, Montana

My hometown is a place that cannot be reached directly by plane from Portland, OR – or anywhere else for that matter.  Let me rephrase that– my hometown is a place that cannot be reached directly by a plane that I can afford! If you take a flight in or out of Plentywood, MT you either have or know someone who has their pilot’s license, you spray crops, or you are begin flown to/from a larger hospital. Since I don’t fit into any of these reasons I can usually find a fairly affordable flight to Bozeman, MT (where my sister goes to school) and then make the eight-hour drive home with her. And by fairly affordable I mean in the range of $400-$500 roundtrip. The way back to Portland poses a slight problem because my sister isn’t quite done with Christmas break by the time I have to get back  to work so I have opted to take a roundabout flight to Portland from Williston, N.D. And my sister thinks she is ready to be done with college…ha! Enjoy those month-long breaks while you can, sis! Plentywood, Montana - Roundtrip

Since I moved to Portland I keep pretty close tabs on current flight prices around the country — subscribing to nearly all airline newsletters, mileage programs, and periodically comparing prices online. So that means that I know that I can fly from Portland to Maui or Portland to Miami for nearly $100-$200 less than flying to any “major city” in Montana — even though it’s twice as far away.  One might think it would be tempting to take an alternatively cheaper holiday vacation to one of those significantly warmer areas but I prefer to make the trek home to my little corner of the world: Plentywood, Montana – where the  temperature will likely be below zero. Why? Because you just can’t put a price on being home for the holidays.

A few thoughts to ponder:

The holiday season is a good time to reflect on all the things you have to be thankful for. A number of my friends on Facebook started a daily list of things they were thankful for on the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  The main things they were thankful for was their health, their family and friends, volunteers, our veterans, employment, and a warm place to call home. I am so thankful that I can be thankful for all of those things because a number of families this holiday season cannot.

If you have the means there are a number of ways you can help families in need this Christmas: donate to your local food bank, give clothing, blankets, or old coats to the Salvation Army, volunteer your time at a shelter, or donate new toys to a Christmas toy drive like Toys for Tots. Last weekend Keenan and I cleaned out our closets and donated three garbage bags full of blankets and clothes to the Salvation Army. Keenan’s firm held a toy drive so we participated in that as well. We are so thankful to be able to give a child the joy of opening a present on Christmas morning that may not have had any presents otherwise. That joy – like being home for the holidays – is something you cannot put a price on. Have a safe and joyous Christmas everyone!