Vail Daily column: Only 17 happy shopping days left |

Vail Daily column: Only 17 happy shopping days left

This will be my 56th holiday season and, more importantly, my 32nd Christmas in Happy Valley surrounded by a year-round endless supply of Christmas trees.

Any evergreen with needles has always been considered a Christmas tree to me, as that’s the dream I had as a little kid in Dallas, hoping to see one of the yuletide yews covered in a fresh blanket of snow.

It was the little things in life in the ’60s.

Besides, I had no idea it was a 3,000-year-old Pagan tradition, nor did I care, but those pesky Pagans had been decorating trees to worship nature and the Winter Solstice, and it was years later before I understood what the seasons really meant. The heathens adorned trees with the color red to represent animal sacrifice and green for the new life they hoped would return in the spring.

For me it meant presents, Santa and a few weeks off from school.

And although it sounds silly, if someone wants to call it a “Holiday tree” I’m not bothered by it in the least.

Shouting “Merry Christmas!” has the exact same meaning to me as “Happy holidays!” and if someone is truly offended from a supernatural point of view, then I strongly suggest they look in a mirror to see the insecurity their belief provides.

The negative attitudes of most humankind take a backseat for these few weeks, and that’s the best part to me. People smile at one another, shake hands, say holiday-styled greetings of all sorts, give gifts and share feelings.

The fourth century Roman Church’s idea of having a mass for Christ to eclipse the Dec. 25 festivities of a rival pagan religion, Mithraism (which seriously threatened the existence of Christianity) has become over the last 145 years or so (becoming a national secular holiday in 1870) a virtual worldwide celebration of life, and should be enjoyed to the fullest by all those who choose to do so.

If not, then don’t.

But either way Christmas itself is just a word, and in most of today’s society is no more associated with religion than oversized chocolate rodents are with pretending to crucify an immortal deity in April.

The spirit of the season is everywhere, no matter one’s religious affiliation or lack thereof, and it is pretty hard to ignore if you can read or have access to the Internet or the ability to breathe.

’Tis the season for us to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on gifts over the next two weeks for people that don’t really need them and eating enough food to keep a Syrian refugee family alive for two years.

’Tis the season to carve a few turns, sip a hot spiced mocha while watching the smiling faces meander up and down Bridge Street, gaze at the Gore with an appreciative “sigh” (the range, not a picture of Al), and finish at home with a Christmas beer (or two) with the wife, kids, dog and cat, if you have any.

’Tis the season of togetherness, as well as the season of blatant hypocrisy, sacrilegious self-righteousness, and the perpetual pursuit of patriotic materialism, but hey, not only am I guilty of the same, I love it.

Remember it’s not just a time of year, but a frame of mind, and in a way, if you find it offensive, I find it funny, and still hope everyone remains happy here in Merry Valley.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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