December feels like the finish line.

I’ve started the year with a bright spirit, I’ve put in the work with the wind at my back (and sometimes howling in my face). I’ve ridden countless miles on my horses right here at the Big Sky Horse Park in Missoula, and I’ve seen multiple successes and failures. I’ve learned time and time again, even in the arenas of my life that I thought I knew best. 

So December, now that we’re here, feels like a break. I’ve crossed the finish line for another calendar year and I’m surrounded with new friends—several I’ve made just this year—and it feels like a victory. I’ve always seen this season as best suited for marveling at the simple joys that are often hidden in plain sight, like the pilot overhead. Where’s he going? Who’s with him? In this issue, it’s Michael Burks—Angel Flight West Montana Wing Leader. He’s a soul saver, a heart-patcher, an angel in every meaning of the word. I’ll be surprised if pages XX to XX don’t cause you to shed a tear. 

And then there’s someone like Judith, on page XX, whom I met at a cafe in the Bitterroot Valley a couple months back. Though her hair has grayed, I can see her vividly as the young adventurer she still is. While this issue isn’t shimmering with Christmas adornments, the spirit of the holidays is right here within these pages. It’s good cheer and good people, joyous times and being together. It’s having your heart in the right place.

I hope this month brings you closest to the things or ones you hold dear. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!