Van Beek: A different kind of Christmas
2020 has been a year that few could have imagined. We all experienced new ways of connecting and carrying on. We’ve had to become more creative in how we conduct our business and educate our children. Riots and turmoil dominated the news, and the political scene added new dimensions to the growing lack of civility across the national landscape.
Hostile dialogue emerged from even the most calm and level-headed among us, sometimes causing serious rifts among close friends and family members.
The uncertainty of the pandemic has had people on edge, with concerns emerging about mental health and fiscal vulnerabilities, yet we can’t help but appreciate the world in which we live. We still reside in the greatest nation on Earth, and us fortunate few, who get to live out our dreams in this valley, even under trying circumstances, are still in awe of this place we call home.
Despite all the challenges, I can’t help but look around with profound appreciation and gratitude. I am privileged to work in a community that exhibits such a high degree of caring for one another. My peers, across the entire field of first responders, have displayed incredible levels of concern, creativity, and dedication, as they confronted the virus, head on, and showed no signs of the distress they must have felt, as they worried about bringing the pandemic home to loved ones.
My team at the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, along with neighboring police departments, have been at the forefront of ensuring our county’s safety, while placing themselves in harm’s way and never complaining about the threat to their own well-being. Staff at our detention center have gone out of their way to handle their responsibilities in their usual professional manner, but with an extra sensitive heart to the stress that inmates felt about the pandemic.
My fellow law enforcement professionals have stepped up, as they usually do during times of crisis, to offer help wherever they could. Our ability to work together as a solid team is something for which I am continually grateful. The degree of cooperation we share is uncommon in many places … we are indeed truly fortunate.
I have been in awe of our county’s elected leaders, as they tackle unknown territory, with levels of statewide mandates endlessly shifting, and attempting to balance those requirements with the needs of our local community to work and continue some semblance of normalcy, within a safe environment.
As we’ve journeyed through this pandemic, we’ve all re-examined our priorities and made adjustments accordingly. It’s been a hard road and our travels are not over, but the destination is in sight. Throughout it all, we have maintained our values of love, compassion, and creative innovation.
We’ve laughed and cried, sometimes even surprising ourselves, yet we are still here. We take the challenge and say … bring it on! We don’t love the current circumstances, but we live by the saying, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Our DNA is about pushing limits and not just surviving, but flourishing. Adventure takes many forms, and for many of us, this is just another mountain to climb. Vail and its surrounding communities were founded by those with more grit than fear, and they laughed about it, determined to accomplish the impossible.
We’ve learned that DIY really does mean that we must do it ourselves. We may doubt our abilities, as we fall, get up, adapt our course, and keep moving forward. There is a reason why our community produces so many gold medal Olympians … we push through the pain, until we win.
We’re learning that we have more talents than we ever imagined, and Colorado grit is not just a saying, it is a way of life.
My letter to Santa this year is one of immense gratitude for being given the blessing of knowing and working with the many unsung heroes that make up every community in Eagle County. Your determination to create success out of challenge, your deep love for those in need, your ability to look at this double black diamond run and act like it’s a bunny hill, leaves me speechless.
Thank you so very much for being who you are and making the rest of us better. Merry Christmas!
James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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