On Christmas Day, I wake up at dawn. The early rise dates back to my childhood when I’d patiently wait for my parent’s steps to vibrate down the hall, followed soon after by the sound of a Mr. Coffee machine coming to life. Upon hearing those cues, I’d go skipping down the stairs where I’d find my tired but smiling parents sitting around the kitchen table.
These days, my anticipation has not waned but instead gotten sharper with time, all thanks to skiing. And while my parents might not be smiling at the bottom of the stairs anymore, my skis are standing at attention, ready for the best day of the season.
On Christmas morning, I turn on the Mr. Coffee machine, clean the house, take the dog for a walk, and about an hour into waking, my wife joins the routine. Smiling and turning on the frying pan, she combines leftover corned beef from Christmas Eve dinner and freshly scrambled eggs to create “hash” that will power us through lunch.
Between the smell of coffee and reheated corned beef, I’m smiling ear-to-ear, my senses slowly becoming intoxicated by the intense aromas.
With full plates, we sit down, eat, and read the cards we’ve written for one another. The subject matter varies. From the year’s past surgery to a loss in the family, the tone is often somber but surprising, reflective yet full of redemption. After cards, I tear into my presents and my wife does the same. We’re still kids at heart.
With a living room trashed with empty boxes, packing paper, and the like– we don whatever new ski gear Santa bestowed upon us (yes, I still believe in Santa) and head out the door.
We catch the 8:15 bus and by 8:30, we’re boarding the gondola while everyone is still fast asleep or just getting to presents and breakfast. For the next three hours, we ski everything from boot deep powder to seamless groomers, hopping back and forth between styles like a James Brown Christmas album. Nobody’s around except for lifties and ski patrol.
We stay ahead of the crowds until it’s no longer possible. We know the jig is up when the lift line on the backside of the mountain begins to get lengthy. That typically happens around noon. “Let’s do two runs and skip the last,” my wife says with a smirk. The crowds are here, my wife and I are exhausted, and as we head down we know– between 830 and noon– Christmas is the best ski day of the year.
Merry Christmas from Ski.com!