Reality Check

Montana’s Santas and Elves

No Montanan makes it through a hard winter alone. And those who make all our lives easier and manageable deserve recognition.

By Tammi Fisher

When Santa rolls through the Flathead Valley, no doubt he is impressed by the good work all of us do to keep the Christmas spirit alive year-round. No Montanan makes it through a hard winter alone. And those who make all our lives easier and manageable deserve recognition. 

The first responders who work holidays, help all of us in blizzard conditions and show up when called. I have had occasion to summon the Evergreen Fire Department to my home for health events that occurred on Christmas Day. The EMTs showed up with a smile, grace, and compassion. They helped my family during Christmas when surely they would have preferred to be spending time with their family instead. 

Law enforcement who spend much of their winter rescuing folks from the consequences of winter. They are in and out of their vehicles in the worst of temperatures tackling all of the everyday crime issues in the valley, plus during winter they spend enormous resources to rescue those of us that struggle with inclement weather. They too work every holiday, place themselves in harm’s way every day, and make our community safe for our families’ benefit. 

Snowplow drivers – private, city, county and state – who are up while we are asleep ensuring safe passage for our families to go to school, work, and the grocery stores. Waking up to plowed roads as an adult provides the same joy as a kid waking up to Santa’s gifts under the tree.

Every Montanan who keeps a tow rope and extra chains in their vehicle, not for themselves, but to help our friends and neighbors when their cars land in the ditch. I saw three of these elves during the arctic cold snap rescuing newcomers to the valley who still drive the equivalent of a rollerskate on winter days. These everyday Montanans who keep equipment in their vehicle simply to help others navigate Montana winters are the angels masquerading as humans among us. Add to this category all of the folks who shovel the walks and driveways of our elderly or ill neighbors, not for money but because it’s the right thing to do

The volunteers at local food banks and shelters for the homeless who forfeit their family time to serve others who may have no family whatsoever. The elves from Toys for Tots who ensure every kid has a gift for Christmas. The healthcare workers who see us at our worst, and yet greet us with compassion and kindness. Acts of charity and generosity are rampant in the Flathead Valley and reflects our character as a community. Perhaps it wasn’t the TV show “Yellowstone” that draws people to the Flathead. Maybe it’s us? 

Tammi Fisher is an attorney, former mayor of Kalispell and host of the Montana Values Podcast.