High Points: Hang on for the ride | AspenTimes.com

High Points: Hang on for the ride

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Ruben Bolling |

People get ready — there is a train a-comin.’

Actually, not a train, but a boatload of people are about to arrive on our doorsteps at any minute now. Most will be coming by plane, be it commercial or private, and all will be ready to ski, shop, drink, eat, play and party. It is Christmas in Aspen!

Hopefully all of your personal Christmas stuff is done. The tree is trimmed, the cards are sent, your presents have been wrapped. ’Cause if not, it ain’t likely to happen. Once the hordes settle in, everything in this town changes.

Now don’t get me wrong — we all love the Christmas crowds. They are the economic engine that allows many of us to live here. If you are a working man or woman, then this two-week period can make or break your year.

For retailers, the shops do a big chunk of their annual business in the next two weeks. Walk about town today, and you’ll find all of the racks are chock-full of this season’s clothes. There are hats and boots and jackets, dresses, pants and tchotchkes stacked high in all the shops. And let’s not forget the art that hangs shiny and new in the galleries around town. In the ski shops, the walls have skis layered atop one another, and there is hardly room to turn around much less try anything on.

Oh, and everything is at full price.

If you go to a bar or a restaurant, the same one that was empty say, last Tuesday, it’s gonna be hard to find a place to sit. And plan on waiting for that Manhattan. The food-and-beverage folks simply flip a switch and go from quiet to berserk in the course of a single week. Once Saturday rolls around, places that served 30 meals a night will serve 130. It’s a little crazy and certainly a challenge for the kitchen and waitstaffs.

For us locals, parking becomes an issue. After a few weeks of seemingly private skiing, we will have to wait in lines at some of our lifts before we make our turns. And forget about getting a flight out in the next week or so.

Yes, Christmas is a joyous time, and for many of us it can be the best time of the year. But in Aspen it is a mixed bag. If you love what has become of the new retail Aspen, then Christmas is literally your Super Bowl, the biggest event of the year. If that is not your gig, then the holiday can be an annoyance, a distraction from the day-to-day life that you come to expect in the dark days of winter.

But let none of us forget just how fortunate we all are simply to be here at this beautiful time of year. We are nurtured and protected not only by the majesty of the mountains but by our friends and loved ones.

It is the best Christmas gift of all.

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