Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Christmas feels a little different this year.

For the past decade or so, all of our stockings have seemingly been filled to the brim. Everybody had work. Everybody had money. The future seemed bright with no end in sight. The ever-increasing equity in our homes would bring us prosperity and happiness, not to mention full stockings forever and ever.

Then, boom. With little warning this past summer, our real-estate market began to make a “correction,” a euphemism that made it sound like the coming collapse was going to be a good thing. In the fall, everything in our economic lives changed as banks came to the brink and brokerage firms went over it. Credit dried up, jobs were lost, and housing prices, even in tony resort towns, began to “stabilize,” another euphemism that is used to make us feel good about something that really is not.

Now it seems that those of us who have stockings left might be happy to find even a lump of coal in them. At least it is something. The times they are a-changing, and, for the foreseeable future at least, the change does not look promising.

With the change happening at relentlessly breakneck speed, it has been tough to take a breath. To take time to re-evaluate and to reflect upon what we still have.

Perhaps that will be the gift of this Christmas to all of us. Maybe we can all take a break from the rushing around of years past when Christmas meant an endless gift list and thousands of dollars in credit-card bills. Maybe this is the Christmas, precisely because of the downturn, where we can get back to basics and really take the time to appreciate just how lucky we have been in the past and just how much we have in our lives.

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I know that’s a Pollyanna-ish way of looking at the world, but in these times it may just be the smartest thing to do. Optimism for the sake of optimism is underrated in our society. It can be a great elixir for all that ails to simply “look on the bright side of life,” as silly as that may sometimes seem.

Of course, we are not immune, as we found out in the last few months, to the economic threats of the world. If the coming times are going to be as dire as the pundits on TV predict, then be glad that you are here in this mountain town to ride it out. Aspen has after all gone through trying times before and yet it continues to rise up after each fall. Remember, at the very least, we do have a place of extraordinary beauty to live in each and every day of the depression.

Put that in your stocking this Christmas.

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