Let’s have more Christmas days
I can think of no sadder event than a parent having to bury their child. Add in the shock of an accident, and it becomes unbearably tough and tragic. Newspaper headlines deal in unexpected, rare and emotional events. When tragedy, youth, happy holidays and “non-real world” escapist resorts combine, it makes for sad and gripping headlines.Skiing and snowboarding deaths are fortunately rare enough to be an attention-grabber. Sadly, our car culture seems to accept the dangers of the roads as not even a necessary evil but an unavoidable fact of life. We can do a lot more to make automobiles and the highways safer than we can with the slopes. Death’s a fact of life everywhere, even here in Vail.Not the best mood-maker for Christmas, but these recent tragedies emphasize the foundation behind this celebration in the heart of winter. Showing appreciation for family, friends and others with gifts and tokens of your love. If you’re lucky enough to be here and loved, embrace it and look forward to the spring.As a “me first” small child I loved Christmas for what I got – chocolates, toys, attention. The first dawn of maturity appeared when I started to notice and care if people liked what I gave them. The enjoyment of nailing a gift is now much better than receiving the perfect present. It’s also much harder to achieve. Today, more and more people seem to already have everything they need and, almost as often, want. This is one of the signs of how wealthy and materialistically better off we are than 10, 20, 30 years ago. A Christmas gift to any Third World charity will fill a need and does guarantee a big smile somewhere on the planet. Sure, you may not be able to see it, but that’s what your imagination is for.Christmas is really about giving and caring for others, as any parent knows, and designated receivers or children are in fact essential for a successful Christmas. I normally don’t bother with the tree and trimmings. I’m “too busy,” “an adult now” or it’s “too much work” and “no one but me will see it anyway.” Then my niece visited and drove old Scrooge away. You can’t have a 5-year-old and no tree. I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought possible. Who knows why? The boundless energy and wonder of a child or the symbolism and ritual which opened up old memories and gave us the excuse to pamper each other?I guess ceremonies are needed and great structures to hang emotions on, which makes no sense, but then emotions don’t usually follow logic. Smells, songs, letters, images, anniversaries maybe?The dogs loved it, too, though perhaps for different reasons. In the past when bored we’ve duct-taped doggie treats inside boxes as a challenge for them. It’s fun to see their brains click as they manipulate the destructive brawn and finesse of their jaws, veritable Swiss army knife tools of teeth as they cut, crunch, tear and gently tease the biscuit out.All the neatly wrapped boxes under the tree represented a surprising secret bonanza of treats and challenges to them. I guess a dog’s view of a gift’s usefulness is different than ours. Socks, trinkets, Patagonia thermals all discarded under a confetti of ribbons and paper with the English toffee nowhere to be seen. The mess took a little away from the traditional unwrapping but added a new twist of guess who this is for and from whom. Enjoy the holidays. It’s strange that we need these traditions to bring us together for a few days. We should have more of them.Alan Braunholtz of Vail writes a weekly column for the Daily.Vail, Colorado
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