There is an undeniable force of nature – almost like one of those mosquito repellent lights – that draws people from all over the world to Aspen at Christmas. It is the same mystical and intangible energy that brought “The King” (Elvis) here. It’s a constant tractor beam that has drawn “Miss Christmas” herself, Mariah Carey, who has bloomed here endlessly like a candy-striped amaryllis bulb for 25 years. The Christmas soul that attracted locals like you and me, whether as children or young adults, still exists today.
The mountains are my spiritual recharging stations. Skiing them gives me a goal. After exploring all four ski areas this week, I’m happy to report that the welcoming spirit of Colorado “mountain aloha” is strong right now. From the six-pack swingin ‘of the Windy Big Burn in Red’s Rover, to the Bowl, to Mahatma Ganjala on rich Ajax, I can feel it, and sometimes feel it too.
It is important for me to serve a good product for Christmas. If there are two high water marks in town, this week and July 4th are those telltale whitewashed indicators like tub rings, the absorbent walls of Lake Powell. I’m in dire straits right now with my business and the rush of vacations, spinning colorful and whimsical threads in my head about the over-importance of fleeting client docudramas. If you are working on the front line remember we have this. We are the pros. We’re one of the reasons people come here.
It’s intense here on Christmas week. The expectations are high. Aspen is a stress factory. Add a day of powder and you’ve got a full-fledged anti-panic powder pressure cooker. The other day I had an embarrassing situation where I found myself losing patience with a client and trying a new tactic. At the time, I admitted to the boss that I had lost my temper, I recognized him, I apologized and moved on.
Christmas changes for me as I get older. Every year, I try to reconcile the memories of my childhood with the presents. The never-ending quest for little miracles and miniature victories in my day-to-day life continues. I have worked every Christmas for almost 25 years. Now my Christmas tradition is to order Chinese food for dinner: crispy duck with mu shu pancakes.
One of my favorite things to do is just sit on the couch with a set of sore ski legs and gaze out the window into the cold snowy night with Christmas lights. Memories of opening socks, then gifts, playing with toys all morning, cross-country skiing and gargantuan dinners flicker in my head. I can still smell pine branches, wreaths, candles, new soaps, toys and clothes fresh out of their wrappers.
I have the feeling of sinking on Boxing Day when I see the hangover in the form of all the garbage we produce at Christmas: all the trash cans and muffin bins lined with wrapping paper and boxes. I actually feel horrible for the trash.
The coronavirus rivals herpes and its slogan as “the gift that keeps on giving”. I have an aversion to receiving gifts for some strange reason. Honestly, I grew up spoiled. Maybe I feel like I already have everything. I love the feeling of giving gifts, however. For me, Christmas is best seen through the eyes of children – innocent, hopeful, unjaded. I also really enjoy watching tourists revel in the fresh snow of Panda Peak, learning to ski, some seeing white gold for the very first time. A suitable set of Christmas gifts that I would be perfectly happy with is a steady state of mind, good health, and a fresh powder. Call me crazy, but I still believe in Santa Claus.
I’ve been constantly reminded this week what a special place Aspen is to spend Christmas. The biggest gift I have to give this year is my writing and this column. It is an honor and pleasure to be able to share my observations and thoughts on Aspen with you, the reader. I was especially touched to be voted one of Aspen’s favorite columnists, so thank you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. Thanks for the reading. Keep your thoughts positive and your expectations realistic.
Be patient. Be flexible. Revel and celebrate the things you have, whether you live here, own a home here, come back for the second to umpteenth adventure, or visit Aspen for the very first time.