Aspen Untucked: The Magic of the Holidays


As much as we love that special time of year, the holidays can be a trying time. From mid-November to the start of the New Year, we are bombarded with advertisements instructing us to buy that or purchase this. We have a spectacular lineup of chores that ranges from cooking a large bird to wrapping strands of lights around trees, both indoors and out. We have a long list of loved ones whom we must purchase gifts for, which, if you’re like me, can be very stressful because I put far too much emphasis on getting the perfect item for each person. All of this extra shopping and spending rarely comes with a Christmas bonus or any kind of increased income to help us pay for it all. And, to top it all off, the holidays can bring an excessive amount of time with family.

Growing up, I absolutely adored Christmas and the surrounding holidays. What wasn’t to love? There was a plethora of presents congregated under a spectacularly decorated tree. And, just when I thought there wasn’t room for more, a pleasantly plump man would descend through the chimney, delivering even more gifts. And not just any gifts, but the exact ones I wrote him about earlier that year. Christmas also brought incredible amounts of food and a passable excuse for seconds or thirds when it came to dessert. And, perhaps my favorite thing about that time of year, I got to see my whole family. For me, both then and now, that is the most important part.

Back then, Christmas was just a downright magical time. But as we grow up, the magic begins to dissipate. It becomes clear that anything coming from Santa actually costs money and does not wrap itself. That incredible amount of food that used to glide through our youthful bodies so expediently now likes to take up residence on our waist and hips. Sure, we can have seconds and thirds of dessert, but we will be paying for it. And our interactions with our families change. Gone are the simple and fun conversations from childhood. Suddenly, personalities clash more than they used to. Words are misunderstood. And, perhaps most relatable this year, political views and opinions vary deeply. As we grow up, the holidays become a lot more real, yet our expectations for them remain the same. We feel the need to make it just as magical as it was when we were kids. And often times, that leaves us even more disappointed, stressed and depressed than we would have been if Christmas never came around that year at all.

I realize at this point that I’m sounding rather Grinch-like. I certainly don’t mean to harm the Christmas spirit, or make anyone feel more stressed out than they already do. But I think it’s important, as we make our way into the throes of adulthood, that we understand things may not be as fantastical as they once were. But that’s OK. When you peel off the layers of magic that include Mr. and Mrs. Claus, reindeer, mother’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, games of hide-and-seek with siblings and cousins and those mysterious, brightly colored packages underneath the tree, things get more real. We have to accept that our relatives may never love the gifts we get them. We have to agree to disagree on some of the hardest issues relating to the election. And we have to remember that underneath the silly Hallmark cards and the gaudy decorations, the most important thing is to spend time with the people we love. We can’t put a price tag on something like that.

Barbara Platts loves spending time with her family. However, she certainly doesn’t mind opening a present or two on Christmas morning. Reach her at

Aspen Times Weekly

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