The Best Christmas Ever: Vail Valley leaders talk the best gifts they’ve ever received
Most can remember those iconic Christmas mornings as a kid: receiving a first bicycle, or a huge dollhouse or one of those remote control cars. Or growing older, getting engaged, having kids in December and watching them open gifts. The Vail Daily decided to ask movers and shakers in the Vail Valley what the best Christmas gifts they’ve received were: here’s what they had to say.
Mike Brumbaugh – owner of Venture Sports
“The ultimate best (Christmas present) is Jesus,” Brumbaugh said.
More personally, though, Brumbaugh said his best present came from his wife last year: A pair of Apple AirPods.
“I’m pretty much impossible to buy for,” Brumbaugh said. Given that he owns a shop that sells snowsports and cycling gear, it would be hard to pick something he doesn’t already have.
“Nobody buys me gifts,” he said. “But (the AirPods) are great.”
Kathy Chandler-Henry — Eagle County Commissioner
“This is easy. I was eight years old and Lucille’s was a general store in downtown Eagle, where the sushi place is now. They had a ski jacket that looked like a Dalmatian dog, and I just fell in love with it. I just thought I could never get something that fancy, but I did,” she said.
There was a second chapter to Chandler-Henry’s coat story, however. In those pre-Vail days the Chandler family trekked up to Ski Cooper to hit the slopes. When she leaned up against the heater at the ski hut located at the bottom of the hill, Chandler-Henry accidently melted part of the back of her precious jacket. It was a sad day.
“But then my grandmother was able to patch it, so everything turned out OK,” she said.
Doug Cupp — Greater Eagle Fire Department Chief
“One Christmas my dad gave us a really weird animal. We had a mountain lion.”
Cupp’s story obviously needs some additional explanation. Cupp’s dad was a veterinarian and he was occasionally called in to doctor animals at a nearby zoo. The Christmas mountain lion was a small cub that had been badly injured by another lion at the zoo. “Dad saved it, we kept it and we raised it for about three years until it got too big and we donated it to the Bronx zoo,” Cupp said.
Craig Denton – broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties
Denton proposed to his wife, Nancy, on Christmas Day in 1978.
“This is the last time I’m asking,” he remembers saying.
About 40 years later, they’re still married.
Several years later, Nancy gave Craig a new set of golf clubs for Christmas.
“I’d been borrowing from other people,” he recalled, adding “I’m sure I paid for them some way.”
Sheika Gramshammer – owner of Gasthof Gramshammer in Vail
“Can 14 days before Christmas count?” Sheika asked.
Of course it can.
In that case, “Little Sheika” was born on Dec. 10. Sheika said her younger daughter came into the world with dark hair, blue eyes and a smile.
“She had to be a Sheika,” “Mama Sheika” said.
The Gramshammers’ first daughter, Kira, is also a gift, of course, but she was born March 1.
A little farther back, Sheika and her husband, Pepi, spent their first Christmas together in Vail, during the fledgling resort’s first season.
Things worked out pretty well in the years that followed.
Holly Loff – executive director, Eagle River Watershed Council.
From her own childhood, Loff recalls the Christmas she was 8 years old. Loff’s mom did most of the Christmas shopping for the family, but that year, her dad wrapped up a new book, “Ramona Quimby Age 8.”
“I loved the Ramona Quimby books,” she said. “She was 8 and I was 8 — it was really special.”
Jeanne McQueeney — Eagle County Commissioner
“I got engaged at Christmas, at midnight Mass. But when I was a kid, the best gift was something my parents did. They played a tremendous hoax on us. We went out at night on Christmas Eve when we got home, all our gifts were under the tree. The gift was three more years of believing in Santa Claus,” she said.
Matt Scherr— Eagle County Commissioner
“Our daughter always makes Christmas presents for us. A couple of years ago she wrapped up a jar and gave it to me. She said ‘Dad, I am finally getting you what you always ask for when I ask you what you want for Christmas and you always say ‘nothing.’”
“There was nothing in the jar,” he said.
Pam Schultz — Gypsum Town Council
“I got a doll who was dressed in a baton twilling, short red dress that had her name — Mary — painted on the front. She also had white, majorette boots and a little baton,” she said.
Pam Boyd — Vail Daily
My most precious gift — my engagement ring — was given to me on Christmas Eve 1987 when my husband proposed on top of Vail Pass. But as a kid, my best Christmas present ever was a metallic green, three-speed, Schwinn Slick Chick Stingray bicycle. It had snowed on Christmas Eve so I couldn’t ride it right away, but the sun came out and melted the sidewalk so I could take it out for a spin that afternoon. I loved that bike.”
Watching YouTube videos of cats playing piano is fun and all, but at some point during the frigid winters, we all need to leave our houses.