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Vail Family Matters: Do a good deed, add an adventure

Jill Marchione Papangelis
Family Matters
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –My family and I are coming to the end of a little Vail Valley adventure. For the past several months, a 15-year-old skier named Max has been staying with us.

Originally from France, he is an interesting combination of European and American logic. His openness on almost any subject certainly added to our nightly dinner-table conversations, whether the topic was politics, girls or vegetarians.-

You would think it would be difficult to merge into the life of a family not your own, but Max treated us like long-lost relatives and when he called on his way to the hospital after a skiing injury, we dropped everything to race there just as if he were our own.



My husband initially wasn’t too enthusiastic about this arrangement. Not because he wasn’t fond of Max, but logistically we really weren’t set up to have a semi-permanent house guest. Lacking a separate guest room, Max slept on an inflated mattress on my son’s bedroom floor. I think this was good practice for the sheer glamour of his future first apartment.

My husband, understandably, also was concerned about this good-looking young man living across the hallway from my darling, nearly 15-year-old daughter. He wanted precautions like deadbolts, alarm systems and special clothing (think medieval undergarments).



Although we thought it would take some adjusting, Max fit right in. He took it well when he was playfully scolded for his off-color jokes (quite an education for my 12-year-old) and, in his respectful attitude of generosity, often helped bring in the Costco haul or took out the trash.-

He is more than appreciative and has truly become an extension of our family in almost an organic way. Max made an indelible imprint on our lives; his laughter (and ours at his humor) will be missed.

During the summer and fall seasons, a friend of the kids came to stay as well – a snowboarder, Faye. She too brought something bright and unique to our family during those months.-



Where I am somewhat homicidal in the morning (I start my day with a coffee cup that says “Grumpy”), she is an unwavering morning person, cheerful at once when she opens her eyes – obviously some sort of freak of nature. I would wake up and go straight to the coffee machine, where she and my husband would be chatting merrily over their breakfasts.-

Stunned, I could only stare at them in secret envy and hope that I evolve to that level at some point. If this morning is any indicator, it’s not looking good so far.

This gorgeous creature, too, just to torment us and ensure my husband and I took turns sleeping with one eye opened, took up residence downstairs and across the hall, this time from my 16-year-old son. We found many excuses to go downstairs repeatedly to check to see that everyone was in the right beds (I mean places) at night. Fortunately, only friendships blossomed through all of this, but the sort I know my children won’t forget.

Faye was so grateful simply to have lunches made for her and is an absolute joy to be near. Having competed in the Vancouver Olympics at just 17, she will no doubt have the chance to impact many more lives around the globe. Everyone who encounters her is truly in for a real treat.

It is so easy to say “no” to change or anything we perceive to be, possibly, a hassle. And, in an effort not to sugarcoat too much, having extra bodies here did create some small inconveniences. But opening our home to these two interesting and extraordinary individuals gave us a chance to make a difference to them, although we are the ones who, I’m sure, benefited most.

If we want to raise charitable children, we need to lead. I encourage you to set another place at the dinner table, pack one extra lunch, squeeze someone into your already crowded life, step out of your comfort zone – your benevolence may bring an adventure that you (and someone else) will remember for the rest of your life.

Jill Marchione Papangelis is a freelance writer and mother of four. She lives in Edwards with her family. -Send column suggestions or comments to-jillscolumn@gmail.com.


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