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A Montana Christmas

I’m a traditionalist.  When it comes to Christmas, I’m still making the same treats that I made when my sister was a teenager.  To say that I don’t like things to change is an understatement.  

Imagine the upheaval in my life when my older sister moved to Montana and my parents said, “We’ve decided we are going to drive to Montana to celebrate Christmas.”  My reaction was less than enthusiastic.  I could not imagine holding all of our Christmas day traditions on some other day other than the 25th. It would not be the same.  We just could not do that. 

But we did. 

We loaded up in my parents Oldsmobile 98 Diesel and headed west.  When you drive to Montana, by the time you get a third of the way into South Dakota, you start to feel like you’re almost there.  The scenery is different.  The billboards are different.  Everything seems like it’s more western looking.  You just know you’re about to cross over into Montana.  But no, you still have another day’s drive.  

As I remember it, my mom was giving my dad a break from driving.  It was late at night and they were trying to get as far as they could before we stopped. She was driving in her slippers and the temp began to drop. The snow and wind started to pick up and the windchill dipped even further.  It was time to stop. 

We ended up at a small motel, the kind where you can park right outside of your room. Dad was worried about the diesel fuel jelling, so he filled the car up at the last truck stop and left it running all night long. My mom would wake up periodically and listen for the sound of the diesel engine.  Then my dad would wake up and listen for it.  Between the two of them, they worried all night long about that diesel engine stalling and not starting in the morning.  

The next day we made it all the way to Montana and celebrated our first Christmas away from the farm. I survived but my traditionalist heart still likes for annual celebrations to be the same, year after year after year. 

This year has been jacked up to say the least.  Your holiday celebrations may look slightly different, but no matter what they look like or who you celebrate with, rest assured the center of our Christmas celebration is the same yesterday, today and forever.  It is a safe bet that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character produces hope.  And hope does not disappoint us.  

We have all had a certain degree of suffering in 2020 on all sorts of levels. But you can also trust that you are better for it.  As you move through the next few weeks of shopping, cooking, baking and making Christmas as normal as possible and the best holiday ever, remember you don’t have to be perfect….you simply need to be.  

Melissa is a farmwife, mom and freelance writer residing on a dairy farm in southern Michigan. She is available for speaking engagements by contacting her at Visit her weblog at