Gustafson: Thank you — just for the fun of it | AspenTimes.com

Gustafson: Thank you — just for the fun of it

Britta Gustafson
Then Again

Here we are wrapping up 2017 and it seems like an appropriate time for a little reflection.

Having spent the past few weeks focusing my energy on our 50th anniversary weekend of celebration, I've personally been traveling in time between an era that I never experienced for myself and the reality of the one we are entering.

It has truly provided me with the opportunity to pause and think about all the people who came before me and all who that have been and remain in my life. And I enjoy reflecting on how grateful I am for them. Still, more than that, it has made me realize how important it is for them to know how I feel.

We certainly are blessed to live in this environment, and that seems to be one thing that is not lost upon most of us. We are fortunate that this village has the ebb and flow of real community spirit, despite so much emphasis on resort based bottom lines.

Over the past weekend of anniversary celebrations, while I was reminded of the commitment that so many feel toward one another here, I also was made well aware that there is a fragility in that commitment. We need to be sure to find excuses to continue to connect and share the sense of home that so many expressed while they revisited their past five decades in Snowmass.

Gratitude is not just an emotional response, it seems also to be a choice.

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"Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting."

It seems like an innocent mistake, choosing to disavow the steps that lead us to our current personal circumstances — in particular when those steps benefited the comfort, access or security to which we can so easily grow accustomed and take for granted. Here, such benefits might include living in comfortable, even affordable housing in a beautiful location. Or living closely within our natural environment, having learned to nurture and love it. Those who came before us worked hard to maintain this natural way of life and the rural character that we enjoy, even when we can't always pinpoint why.

It seems equally as innocent to join any community with all of the very best interests at heart, and yet still strive to make it suit the expectations that we've brought along. It seems easy to forget that often the very best part of every journey is the ever-evolving self that you come to know as you go along.

I believe when we feel a part of something, whether it is overcoming a challenge or celebrating, we begin to connect in a way that opens us up to expressing gratitude. But I also think we need to have more fun for the sake of fun!

Banana Day and then cleaning up for the Golden Gala on Dec,. 16 certainly opened my eyes as to how much I have to be happy about, grateful for and excited to preserve.

Maybe I truly am becoming the history geek that loves all things vintage and nostalgic. But after amassing more than 600 photos for the Golden Gala slideshow — 12 from the Aspen Historical Society — and the rest from personal photo albums of friends and neighbors and community members, I realized just how much fun we have had here over the decades. I believe that this is a huge element of the connective threads that weave together a tapestry which is covered in retro floral designs, dancing bananas, ski enthusiasts, nature lovers and slope-side apres antics, and interlacing it all in a richer, deeper community spirit that perhaps only a handful truly nurture but which we all can enjoy.

No story about fun and gratitude would be complete without extending my own heartfelt thanks to those who helped keep the fun alive as we kicked off our anniversary season.

It took many helping hands to recreate a version of Banana Days condensed into one day of retro fun! Extended thanks to everyone who helped and a personal thanks to those who helped me with the various scavenger hunts, including Michael and Debbie Shore, Douglas "Merc" Mercatoris, Dick and Kari Moebius, Judi Burwell, Denise Farver, Lance Burwell and Markey Butler. Many thanks to Aspen Skiing Co. and all the costume-clad bananas and Joey L. Woltemath. Thanks to super volunteers Carmen Barber and Renée Fleisher who did an amazing job! Thanks to Bobbie Burkley, Julie Hardman, Erin Young and all those on the team who went the extra mile. Thanks to community members like Ellen Dube who jumped in and helped out. Thank you Damien Smith and crew for keeping the fun going!

And I extend additional gratitude to all of the on-mountain, mall and Base Village businesses that allowed me to disrupt their day with banana games, including Challenge Aspen, the Stew Pot, Slopeside Lanes, the Daly Bottle Shop, the Westin, Venga Venga, State 38, Slice, Base Camp, Elk Camp, Ullrhof, Sam's Smokehouse, The Discovery Center, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Snowmass Sports, Slow Groovin' BBQ, D&E and the Treehouse and ski school staffers. And of course thank you to everyone who donated prizes; your generosity was staggering.

So many folks worked to pull together the Golden Gala, including John Cooley and Doug Mackenzie and all of the additional storytellers, including Chuck Vidal, Tom Marshall, Jesse Caparrella and Amund Ekroll. Extra thanks to the Viceroy staffers who went above and beyond like Katie de Besche and Kevin Pasolli. Thank you for the volunteer hours that Barb Wicks and those who shared ideas and for the creative energy of Susie McNamara. And how wonderful it was to have all of those who traveled from far away to return to town — thank you for making the journey.

And to Randy Woods, the unsung face behind the whole event who worked tirelessly throughout the past year to keep the evening seeped in heart and genuine community spirit. Thank you!

Often, when times seem to grow continuously more challenging, it seems perhaps that fun just for the sake of fun might be the remedy to maintaining balance.

I sometimes liken Aspen to the literary figure of "The Littlest Fir Tree" who was decorated just so, and having grown to become the tallest most glamorous tree in town. While Snowmass has been the potted pine that once sat outside the grand entrance to the old Silvertree, moved year after year from place to place. And though it now grows tall and strong, its roots still have not yet been firmly planted. I believe it's time to ground our foundation. Let's keep on having fun for fun's sake and see how much we grow.

Let's exchange a piece of my mind for a little peace of mind; after all, if we always agree what will we talk about? Britta Gustafson appreciates an open mind; share yours and email her at brittag@ymail.com.