Like millions of other Americans, I will be traveling next week, heading home for Christmas. I'm 37 years old and have spent every one of my 37 Christmases with my family. Though it's mighty tempting to avoid the expensive airline ticket, hectic travel and the Midwest in general, it would positively crush my mother not to have all three of her kids together at Christmas.

Despite the fact that the youngest of her kids is now 33 years old, my mother will still make us go to bed early on Christmas Eve, insisting that Santa might pass by if we are up too late. She will still make us set out cookies and milk for him and carrots for the reindeer. And after we all go to bed, she will take my dad's boots, dip the bottoms in flour and walk them from the fireplace to the tree, trying to convince us in the morning they are Santa's footprints. (One of us needs to pop out a grandkid, stat.)

We will groan and pull the covers back over our heads as she wakes us Christmas morning, telling us, "Santa came! Come see what he brought you!" We will roll our eyes as she puts on her favorite Christmas music soundtrack. And we will sit with anticipation as Dad dons his Santa hat and doles out the gifts, one of which will be matching pajamas for my sisters and me.

My sisters, Michele and Heather, both live in Omaha, just a few miles from my parents.


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Each year about this time, I encourage them with great urgency and frequency to maybe talk to my mom about taking it down a notch over Christmas. "I mean, do we really have to roast chestnuts over an open fire? Nobody even eats them." I will remind them, hoping they will use this as evidence in their Let's End the Christmas Traditions trial.

But alas, seeing how happy these family traditions make my mom tends to make us all just grin and bear it. And say things like, "Oh, it's only once a year. Wear the stupid reindeer ears for the photo."

But that doesn't mean I don't dream of a Park City Christmas, filled with mountain-town traditions and age-appropriate gifts.

If you're lucky enough to be spending the holiday in Park City, here are some fun traditions you can start for your family and guests -- ones they are sure not to complain about in their local paper.

Guided snowshoe tour at Canyons Resort

Experience the resort's unique network of snowshoe trails hidden among its 4,000 acres of skiing. Every guided tour is created with a unique destination, experience, or adventure in mind. Tours can accommodate all ages and physical activity levels, ranging from the Family Tour for ages five and up to the strenuous Black Diamond Tour, suited to those looking for a workout. A Moonlight Tour is also available on specific dates, which includes a snowshoe tour after the sun goes down and ends with the Western BBQ dinner. All tours include snowshoes, trekking poles and a gondola pass.

To learn more visit: http://www.canyonsresort.com/winter_activities.html%3Fdinid%3D62

Fireside Dining at Deer Valley

To really wow your guests, treat them to Fireside Dining at Deer Valley's Empire Lodge. Fireside Dining features four courses served from five stone fireplaces. The European-inspired menu includes Swiss raclette cheese, cured meats, salads, delectable stews, potato rosti, fire-roasted leg of lamb, fresh baked breads and dessert fondues. To go from wow to W.O.W., include a horse-drawn sleigh ride around the lodge before the dessert fondue station, or trek in on snowshoes before dinner.

For more information visit: http://www.deervalley.com/Dining/WhereToEat/FiresideDining

Night skiing at Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR)

For the hardy among your visitors, bundle them up and take them to Park City Mountain Resort for some skiing under the stars. Night skiing at PCMR opens on Christmas, and is available via the PayDay, 3 Kings and First Time lifts.

More information can be found on the resort's website: www.parkcitymountain.com

Snowmobiling in the mountains

Spend a day exploring the alpine foothills of the Wasatch Mountains with a snowmobile tour from the Deer Valley-operated Summit Meadows Adventures. It's an ideal adventure for the entire family and there are more than 7,000 exhilarating and scenic acres to explore. One-, two- and three-hour tours are available.

For more information, visit: www.deervalley.com/WhatToDo/Winter/Snowmobiling

Tubing at Soldier Hollow

Squealing, laughing and whooping aren't just reserved for powder days. Tubing at Soldier Hollow is sure to bring out all those sounds too, and the inner child in everyone.

Soldier Hollow offers the longest tubing lanes in the state and lift service for towing you back to the top. Day or night, this activity is sure to delight everyone in your family.

Tubing sessions are two hours long, and pre-purchasing tickets is recommended.

More information can be found at: http://www.soldierhollow.com/tubing.php

However you spend your Christmas this year, I hope it is filled with joy, peace and love. And don't forget to take a moment on Christmas Eve and give thanks that you are not piled into the family car, driving around aimlessly in search of a live nativity scene while singing "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." If history is any indication, that's what I'll be doing.

Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley. If you have a story idea, please e-mail her at sabordog@aol.com.