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Home for the holidays

Tamara Miller
Matt IndenChristmas By Masked Man store employee Kathy Griego looks out the window as snow continues to fly in Minturn.
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Most Americans love Christmas decorations so much they can hardly wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the holiday wreath. By the last weekend of November, most of our neighbors have put the inflatable nativity scene on the front yard, the Christmas tree in the living room and are simply tapping their fingers, waiting for the presents to arrive. Too bad Santa Claus still operates on the traditional schedule.

The local stores are stocked with enough garland, holly and pine cones to make homes holiday-ready for all our senses. Forest green pine and bright red poinsettias look Christmasy enough, and the smell of cinnamon and peppermint can encourage the holiday spirit. The sound of carolers and bells can put us in a season-for-giving state-of-mind, and what child (or adult) hasn’t wanted to shake a few presents under the tree? The only sense we can’t satisfy during the holidays is our sense of time. Christmas and New Year’s always seem to come and go much faster each year.

Holiday decorating doesn’t have to be a hurry, though.

In fact, Lew Meskimen owner of Minturn’s Christmas by Masked Man encourages those who love having a live Christmas tree to be a little more patient. Newcomers to Eagle County underestimate the effect our higher altitude and drier air can have on fresh-cut trees.

“It makes them shed really fast,” Meskimen said.

He recommends waiting until about Dec. 15 to get a live Christmas tree. Once purchased, the tree should be given plenty of water.

“Make sure there is a new cutting on the bottom,” Meskimen added. “Otherwise the sap will seal and the tree will not absorb the water.”

Keep the tree away from forced air heaters, too.

Of course, we can always buy an artificial tree. Generally, the more expensive the tree is, the more real-looking it is, Meskimen said.

Guests and second-home owners who are visiting for the holidays may prefer to have someone else decorate their tree. Meskimen’s shop is one of several local stores that provide that service. They’ll even put up the lights.

“The women really love Christmas and they always think the guys should put the lights on and the guys hate it,” he said.

Meskimen’s store used to encourage wives to buy their guys an early present by hiring a professional to light the tree.

Noel, a shop for the seasons with stores in Vail and Beaver Creek, carry Biederman Ornaments, which are popular with collectors. Most of general manager Nancy Murk’s customers are out-of-town visitors who come in because those ornaments are so difficult to find elsewhere.

Gold-plated aspen leaves also are popular with Noel customers. Anything symbolizing the mountains – deer, elk, bears – are popular in Charlotte Hess’s store, Joy to the World, in Edwards. Ornaments made out of gingerbread can give a homey feel to the tree, too.

Retro-style ornaments seem to be gaining appreciation, Murk said. Things like little elves dressed in felt and little white reindeer with Santas on the back are gaining popularity.

In recent years, young professional types seemed to favor the mouth-blown, handpainted glass ornaments, Murk said.

Trimming the tree is a family activity for many folks. Most favor the kid-made decorations, or the passed-down ornaments for their trees.

“I think people like to stick to traditions,” Hess said.

Fireplaces are so popular in Eagle County, many residents like to dress them up, too. Pine garlands with candles or poinsettias help create a holiday theme, Hess said. Adding a few collectors items, such as nutcrackers, or statues of mountain wildlife, such as deer, elk or bears, is a nice touch, too, she added.

Bows and ribbon decorated in holiday colors are relatively simple, inexpensive and effective. Don’t just focus on visuals, though. Meskimen recommends people put sleigh bells on the front door, in the dining room, or just about anywhere in the house.

“You can use them anywhere, just hanging on the wall, all kinds of stuff,” he said. “You can just sit there and get bored and ring them, and you’ll get in a better mood.”

Of course Christmas just isn’t Christmas without the wafting smell of cinnamon, pine, peppermint or anything else that has calories in the air. Scented candles don’t pack on pounds, and are popular in Hess’s store. Some, like the striped candles or the gumdrop-shaped candles, look pretty snazzy, too.

An everyday candle holder works just fine. Garland – which seems to be the solution to every holiday decorating dilemma – can transform an everyday candle into a Christmas candle, she added.


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