Aspen Untucked: Time with family is time well spent

by barbara platts
Sharing a bottle of wine with friends is one of life's great pleasures.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The days after Christmas leading up to the start of January have always been a time, in my family, to be spent together. No matter where we are, be it Aspen, Phoenix, even Mexico or Panama, that week has historically been known as a time to be with cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and siblings. No ifs, ands or buts — that’s what we always do.

This has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. I think it may have started as a way for all of the grandchildren to visit with our grandparents. These were my mom’s parents, and traveling was always a passion of theirs that they enjoyed sharing with their offspring’s offspring. They’ve both passed away in recent years, but our tradition of spending time together before the new year has carried on.

Most people do spend a good portion of the holidays with their familial loved ones. However, I think what often surprises people about my family’s dynamic is that we all get along so well. We’re a tight-knit tribe, keeping in contact throughout the year and prioritizing spending time with one another whenever possible. We all have things we like and dislike about our families, but I’ve found that, no matter my own critiques, I enjoy hanging out with my relatives just as much as my very best friends. Whenever we’re all together, we do it up big — going to fun restaurants and bars, taking adventures from hut trips to fishing trips and, perhaps most importantly, laughing with each other constantly. Almost everyone in our rowdy group is ready for adventure, always saying yes to the next step on the itinerary.

But, as with all good things in life, change is inevitable. My family has seen many shifts over the years. We’ve experienced death, loss and heartache but also new births, the introduction of significant others and a lot of fun. I always have to remind myself that the only thing constant in life is change. I do this because change is something I’ve never been particularly good at handling. And, while it’s nice to think that family is a safe place, immune to the shifting tides of life, it’s sadly not the case. Each year, we all get more absorbed in our own lives, focusing on our careers, our significant others and forming families of our own. I think of my first cousins more like siblings, but as our family gets larger and we break out and have families of our own, seeing and spending quality time with one another becomes more and more of a challenge.

Since attempting to control life’s changes is mostly a futile action, I try my best to live in the present when I’m with my relatives. I dedicate as much time as I can to them — staying up to go to that extra bar to sing karaoke, waking up before the crack of dawn to check out a SoulCycle class, swimming through several hundred yards of mud after a running and biking race, or just hanging out and talking for hours on end. I do these things because they’re a hell of a lot of fun (obviously), but also because I never know when something may shift and our time together will become even more limited.

Everything is constantly changing — even with our loved ones. Next year’s get-together with my relatives will be different than this year’s, and so on and so forth. Maybe one day our New Year’s trip tradition will cease to continue altogether. But, for now, I’ll enjoy as many experiences with my family as I can. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Barbara Platts wishes you — and all of your family members — a happy 2018. Reach her at or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.

Aspen Times Weekly

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