An isolated Christmas in Vail
Many families prefer slope time and quiet, small gatherings on ChristmasBy Matt Terrellmterrell@vaildaily.comEAGLE COUNTY – Pete Chapel is waiting at a bus stop on U.S. Highway 6 holding his snowboard behind his head. Ten minutes earlier, he had been watching “A Christmas Story” on TBS.He’s not working today, but he’s not seeing his family either. They live in Omaha, Neb. It’s a hassle for them to visit, and he doesn’t have the money to fly out there. Christmas dinner would be beer with some friends at the Sandbar.”A lot of us are kind of isolated like that,” he said. “I know people from all across the country, and even at Christmas, it’s hard to go back, and it’s hard to get people to visit.” In many ways, it doesn’t look or feel like a typical Norman Rockwell Christmas in Vail.While there are no doubt many families tucked away in their homes, hosting big dinners and swapping stories with great aunts and second cousins, you have a sizable number of loners, tourists and families who prefer a day on the slopes to one stuck inside by the fireplace.Christmas Day, aside from a few gifts and a cookie or two, is just another day for many people here. A day without skiing, snowshoeing or doing anything outside doesn’t make much sense, said Dennis Bankman, who was skiing with his wife at Beaver Creek on Tuesday.”Prime snow today,” Bankman said. “Her parents are at the house. They didn’t mind waiting for us to catch a few runs.”Getting outThe movie is “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” and the sure-to-be-zany plot seems to be an appealing Christmas Day choice for the Dodge family. The Dodge children, Noah and Michael, appear to be very cold. They’ve been skiing all morning. The movie will provide a couple of hours of heated air away from their hotel suite.Ralph and Suzanne Dodge, who usually host a large dinner at their home in Denver on Christmas Eve, are spending this Christmas in Vail. Considering how busy they are all year, it made sense to have a little vacation at Christmas.”Christmas is one of the few days out of the year when I’m not working, my wife isn’t working and the kids aren’t at school. Why not make a ski day out of it?” Ralph Dodge said.Edwards resident Tiffani Quinn and her family did all the normal Christmas things this year, like bake cookies, open presents and decorate a tree but on a much smaller scale. No visitors, no friends. No big parties. There won’t be many leftovers. Quinn’s husband went snowshoeing Christmas morning, as he usually does, and Quinn took her 12-year-old daughter skiing. They like the small, no-fuss Christmas. Flying to Illinois for Thanksgiving is a good enough dose of extended family for the year.”That’s why a lot of people live here,” Quinn said. “You want to be with family, but you also kind of want to do your own thing.”Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.