Every year, my family and I carefully select two identical Christmas ornaments that represent the last 12 months. One is placed on our tree and the other is carefully tucked away for our daughterís future family tree. Over the years we have chosen a ballerina, an English bulldog, a basketball player and a Santa.
Last yearís ornament was an old-world style yellow house to represent the home we had moved into a few days before. These glass, wooden, and copper adornments are our familyís memories, meant to last a lifetime. As we shop, we stick to small businesses, in search of a quality decoration that will withstand years of packing and unpacking. I have come to realize our annual purchase is not only preserving memories ó new ones are being made.
My most treasured ornament is from our first year. Long before I lived or worked in Bigfork, we drove over from Lakeside to visit Montanaís Christmas Village. It is three penguins in Santa hats and boots, made of glass, which we discovered at a little store in Twin Birch Square, now home to Garnet Peak. It represents the year our daughter was born, and our family grew from two people to three. It was, and still is, a perfect start for the tradition we were beginning.
Around our fourth Christmas, we purchased a copper horse made by Roseworks. At the time of the purchase, I did not know the owners, John and Kim Rose. Nor did I realize that this ornament that was to adorn our tree for years was handmade and 100% unique. Four years later, I met Kim and immediately recognized her work. I shared the story and the importance of her ornament in our lives. From this conversation, a friendship bloomed.
Year six is the first time I discovered the year-round Christmas wonderland in the basement of Electric Avenue Gifts. That first foray down to the mecca of ornaments was the foundation of it becoming one of my favorite stores. I love being embraced with a warm greeting from Beverly, Janice, or the many other ladies who make that store special. I also love knowing that, like so many of the shops in Bigfork, the owner hand-selected every item there, hoping it will be loved and treasured by its future owner. That year, we brought home a snowboarder ornament ó if you ever need a sports-related adornment, they have a whole tree of them!
My point in all this is, like my story, shopping small can magically become the foundation for creating friendships and making new memories. Nationwide, 68 cents of every dollar spent in a small business stays in the community. I have to believe that in Bigfork that amount is even higher.
Shopping in Bigfork is about more than just making the purchase. Itís a way of supporting our friends, our neighbors, our schools and our community. I feel extremely fortunate to work for the Bigfork Area Chamber of Commerce and represent the wonderfully unique businesses in our town. And, for those of you who are curious, as I write this, I am looking at the year 13 ornament about to take its place on our tree. It is a blue jay, my motherís favorite bird, purchased at Nancy Oís Interiors, another friend I met while shopping in their store. Ľ