Merry Christmas!

Southwest Colorado is made for Christmas. The combination of snowcapped peaks and blue skies makes this as beautiful a place as any on Earth. And there is nothing like small-town living to reinforce the warmth of the season and the importance of family and friends.

Christmas is a time to spend with relatives and neighbors, a time to give and to rejoice in what we have been given. It is a time to enjoy. The Christmas season is also a time to give thanks. With America’s longest war finally winding down, thousands of American families can revel in the fact their loved ones have left Afghanistan alive and well. At least for some, at least for now, “Peace on Earth” is a reality. That certainly is worth celebrating.

It also is cause to remember thousands of Americans who are still in danger around the world and countless others suffering for other reasons. For as much as Christmas is a special time, the economy, personal problems, illness and the like take no holiday. This year, as always, Americans hold in their hearts their less fortunate neighbors. May they, too, feel at least some of the Christmas spirit.

In the days leading up to the holiday, we tend to focus on the bustle of last-minute shopping, the crush of Christmas pageants and parties as well as the urgency of finalizing travel arrangements. There are plans and purchases to make and people to see. But in our excitement, we should not forget all those in need. Giving should not be limited to family and friends.

At the same time, much of our attention is devoted to the weather. Snow means more than a chance for a beautiful backdrop to Yuletide scenes. Snow is the lifeblood of the ski industry and other winter sports. Agriculture depends on it to water dryland crops and for next summer’s irrigation. Rafting and fishing, watering lawns and fire suppression all depend on the runoff from the winter snowpack. In Colorado and the Southwest, life itself depends on snow.

It is too soon, of course, to say how this winter will shape up. Recent storms were a hopeful sign, but by April, we could again be worried about drought or looking forward to a bountiful spring runoff.

The sight of snow at Christmas eases our fears, boosts our expectations and heightens our sense of holiday cheer. Snow in the high country is a promise of good times. At Durango Mountain Resort, Chapman Hill, on our lawns and trees, it is a welcome accompaniment to the spirit of the season.

Snow does not embody the true meaning of Christmas any more than presents do – or visiting family for that matter – although those are valid expressions of its joy. Taking children sledding, watching them open gifts, the delight of a grandparent at a young one’s happiness are all part of the holiday.

So, too, though, are skiing with friends, just hanging out or even working. Southwest Colorado has a substantial population of young people, singles and service-sector workers who may not have family nearby and who may have to work Christmas Day. They, too, deserve to be remembered and to share in the spirit of the day.

After Christmas, the tendency is to move on, to face the challenges of the New Year. That is as it should be. But for today, enjoy the holiday.

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