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Christmas in the Flathead
Uncommon Ground
My uncle will call this week. More likely he’ll Skype as Wi-Fi now allows much better video quality around the world. My Mormon bishop uncle calls on Christmas Eve. I cherish these visits.

We’ll talk about his traditional Christmas foods like beet salads, turnip casseroles, hams with mustard, liver casseroles, sweet breads and rice pudding with prune sauce.

My uncle lives where broadband internet access is a legal right. It is not uncommon to find public spaces with 100 Mb speeds. That surprises me.

The fastest internet for us is 30 Mb, and it wasn’t long ago that we chugged along at 1.5 Mb. For our line service we pay some $50 a month, compared to the $15 per month my uncle pays for unlimited 4G service to his iPad.

My mother-in-law is celebrating Christmas with us on the farm. It’s a great, fun time. This season we presented her with a personal trainer at the WAVE Aquatic and Fitness Center. We chose four short sessions with certified instructor Michaelann Lee.

We explained to Lee that mom would use all of her talking talents to chatter away from the workout. Lee assured us that she has heard it all before. I’m excited that a trained professional will work with mom while I do some yoga.

I was a bit skeptical when former Sen. Dan Weinberg told me of his vision to build an aquatic center in Whitefish. Boy was I wrong. Every day the parking lot is full and the WAVE is undergoing its second expansion. We are proud members.

The Olympic sized pool at the facility is amazing. But members can cycle, stair step, run, play racket ball, lift weights and do countless classes. Pull up their website to get the full overview.

We’ve been practicing yoga for some time. I clearly need more practice. It’s easier for us in the winter months as we can get away from the daily farm duties. I’m amazed at how much stretching helps my muscles and middle-aged aches and pains.

We’ve been to gentle yoga, yoga flow and pilates to name a few classes. I’m amazed at how fast I am again getting stronger since reacquainting myself to stretching. All those years of hard work and spending time with hands in the soil have taken a toll on our bodies.

The WAVE is helping me be stronger and more balanced again. Not as strong as I was in the late 1980’s when I could pick 4 tons of apples every day. But strong enough to more easily fill the wood box or ski across Blanchard Lake. And stable enough to better love my parents as they approach their 80s.

In last week’s yoga class, veteran instructor Kelly Medelman reminded us that winters can be cold and long. At the end of her hour-long class Medelman said, “Keep some heat, light and breath about you.”

I make Christmas time overly stressful. The expectations run high and there is too much sugar everywhere. It’s good to eat better and breathe as Medelman reminds me.

The WAVE is a nonprofit, and offers membership scholarships. Consider donating a Christmas gift of a scholarship, or simply donate money to the North Valley Food Bank across the street.

This week I’ll Skype with family living far away, exchange modest gifts with loved ones and spend time with family and community friends.

We are blessed to live in the most beautiful part of the world. The Flathead simply rocks and locals make it so.

I hope you are generous to those among us who are less fortunate. Whatever your beliefs, make your limited time spent with family joyous.

I wish you peace and a Merry Christmas.
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