A Christmas surprise
Aspen does not bring out the best of the Christmas spirit in those of us who work here. Overworked, overtired and stressed to the max, ’tis the season to be surly, and it is something of a family legend that many years ago I SPIKED my last Christmas tree into the Dumpster with a tinkle of adhering ornaments and a trail of tinsel.I didn’t know that that would be the last tree, but my daughters had grown up and flown the nest and over the years had Christmas trees of their own, and gradually I divvied up all the semi-heirloom ornaments between them and enjoyed their trees, which were works of art, and I didn’t have to deal with the buying, the hauling, the lopping of branches and stems when the tree turned out to be too tall, securing it with guy wires against overeager cats, screwing it, finally, into the stand: too far to the left, too far to the right, while the dachshund tried to shoulder in to drink the water in the holding dish.No more clambering up in the attic through the trap door, banging my head on the eaves, throwing down boxes of decorations that always included a tangle of Christmas lights which, when plugged in, revealed fatal outages and precipitated emergency runs for replacement bulbs. No more vacuuming up the goddamned pine needles that always plugged up the hose.I like the Christmas bonhomie with loved ones as much as anyone, but the tree scene I could do without.This year my daughter Hillery and her husband, Bruce, came from Leadville to spend Christmas Eve night with me prior to the three of us traveling to celebrate with Skye, Steve and Riley Skinner in Carbondale. I woke up the next day at the civilized hour of 9 a.m. and was astonished to find a perfect little three-foot Christmas tree aglow in the living room! Hillery had assembled and decorated it after we retired, then had crept out pre-dawn to set it up and plug it in. The tree was faux, as were the strings of popcorn, but the limbs were hung with genuine antique rain: the real thing, made of lead and tin, which we treasured and reused every year during World War II.There was an owl and a gingerbread man made of clay by my mother, old glass balls, wooden Santas and angels, musical instruments and two of a very realistic brace of birds given to me (and then passed down to the kids) by the now-gone Fisher sisters who lived in Aspen for 50 years.Tiny white lights, precisely placed, illuminated the eclectic ornaments and the overall effect was dazzling. It is such a cheerful tree I think I’ll keep it up all year – coming around full circle from having no tree at all to it being a permanent fixture. Su Lum is a longtime local to whom Hillery gave a plastic Santa Claus who (dare I say it?) poops jelly beans. This column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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