I just finished a somewhat scary drive from Minnesota to Colorado. Our family is lucky enough to spend Christmas’ here in Snowmass. The drive was winter driving at it’s almost worst and since this was the first dose of winter this year, I was nervous. After 16 hours, Denver was such a welcome sight and dinner with Nell & Mick was perfect.
For me, Christmas time, while wonderful, is a bit melancholy. Growing up, our tiny house was turned into a fairyland on Christmas eve. Our Christmas tree would be put up a few days before, (after visiting no less then 20 tree lots,) and our dad would, with drill and extra branches make it the PERFECT tree. It was not decorated until Christmas eve, when we believed elves would come to the house, after Christine and I were put to bed (early at 4PM). We celebrated on Christmas eve night and so, our mom and dad would turn our home into the most magical place on earth in just 4 – 5 hours. We would be awakened (let out of our room – who could sleep) to this beautiful place, with our mom’s family in attendance, presents everywhere and the smell of wonderful food. I still to this day do not know how or actually, why our parents could do so much work, in such a short amount of time, except for the delight their children.
Because of these memories, Christmas was a stressful time for me as a mother. I would become so over whelmed trying to recreate a magical land that I became sad because I never felt I could measure up to what my parents had done.
When Jim and I purchased a town home at Lutsen ski area in northern Minnesota, our tradition was born. I found that being VERY organized relieved some of the melancholy. So I made lists, checked them twice and all presents were purchased, wrapped, and sent to Lutsen by the 18th of December. I was on a first name basis with the UPS warehouse people. I would box everything, load up the van, drive to UPS and luckily after the first year they would help me get it all inside, fill out the forms, and wish me a Merry Christmas.
The rest of the month was about just being in the spirit and reason for the season. We would drive up to the town home with skis, duffle bags, and treats, knowing that Santa would be there. Our first job after arriving was to head to the Superior National forest to find and cut down a tree, no small task with a van full of kids. Jim would also pretend that we were taking it without a permit, nice thing to teach your kids. If a car drove by he and the kids would dive for the snow filled ditch to avoid detection. But I always had the $5 permit tag in my pocket so we were legal. It was always a Charlie Brown tree, perfectly shaped, not many branches, but oh so loved.
After that, our time was spent skiing, playing board games (no TV in the early years, a blessing) and just being a family. It is what Christmas memories are made of for us. The first year we decided to forego the north for Snowmass (longer ski runs, warmer temps) it was very bittersweet. In fact, Tess said she would not be joining us in Colorado, instead she was going to go to Lusten by herself and would have Christmas alone. Thankfully she didn’t have a car, so with the family she came.
Have a very joy filled Holiday Season.