Tom Clyde: A different sort of Christmas
The family pulled the plug on our huge, multi-generational, multi-family Christmas celebration. Nobody was happy about it, but there were just too many households, too many people and too many health issues among the group. It’s been rescheduled for summer, in the loft of the dairy barn, and a time when we hope that the world has regained some sense of normalcy.
The Christmas shopping hasn’t gone well, and without a big get-together, it’s pretty simple. I wanted to get a panini press for my sister. It should have been easy, but these days, it’s not. I couldn’t find what I wanted locally. Amazon had one that might get here by mid-January. I settled for a model that was actually here on the shelf. Kindle books for everybody else — I’m not going out in the stores again. Masks or not, it didn’t feel comfortable.
At least there is skiing. It seems to be working, and the snow has been very good even without any natural snow. They have the snow-making dialed in. I’m getting the reservation system at PCMR figured out, though the “cancellation” button remains elusive. I swear it hasn’t been in the same place twice. The mask thing mostly works, though it’s hard to visually assess the contagion level of a single wanting to share the chair. It seems rude, as well as cumbersome, to do one of those nasal swabs right there in the lift line. I don’t know anybody who has tried to buy lunch. Deer Valley is pretty similar, without the reservation complication. It feels great to be out with friends. The extent of the holiday crowd, and the spread, will become clear in the next couple of days. I’ll be snowshoeing with the dogs at home until January.
Everything is just a little “off.” Treasured Christmas rituals aren’t happening, and the replacements are awkward and unsatisfying. I haven’t felt quite this displaced in a familiar setting since the day I asked a clerk at Whole Foods where they kept the Diet Coke. He called security.
There was an ad in the paper last week that caught my eye. It was a black background with white type, and my first thought was, “Yikes, who died?” It was Patagonia advertising that everything we do is wrecking the planet. Our clothing purchases accelerate climate change. Clothing is made by exploited people in terrible conditions. What kind of despicable person would buy new ski pants? Have you no duct tape? It ended with the message “Buy Less.”
Well, OK then. They certainly have a point. Buying quality goods and expecting them to last (overcoming the shame of being seen in last year’s colors) makes a lot of sense. Buying an advertisement in the paper encouraging people to buy less fits perfectly in the bizarro world of 2020. Not that I’m objecting. Things in the print journalism world aren’t so good right now. We need every inch of ad space the paper can sell to keep the lights on. If Patagonia wants to buy an ad to encourage people to sell less, go for it.
The country isn’t getting over the election. It’s supposed to be part of the American spirit to say, “put your hat on and get back on the horse, cowboy.” We’ve descended into a kind of Dark Ages 2.0 in which half the country believes that 232 is more than 306 electoral votes. Or that the Democrats are clever enough to run a massive, secret, multi-state election scheme — in Republican-controlled states — that had to involve hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t know which is worse, the denial of simple math, or the belief that the Democrats are capable of such a thing. They can’t organize a two-car parade. Anybody capable of organizing a conspiracy on that scale probably deserves to be in charge. The conspiracy wasn’t a complete success. The Republicans actually gained seats in the House.
In the midst of all the craziness, I keep digging for something that seems solid. It’s out there, right in plain view. It’s friends and family. It’s the miraculous cycles of the seasons (though the miracle would be more impressive it would start snowing). The bald eagles roost in the trees across the river from my house. They’ve been there my entire life, and probably for generations long before me. The days will soon start getting longer now, no matter who’s in charge. Jupiter and Saturn will appear like one planet in the night sky, something that hasn’t happened in 800 years, in the last Dark Ages. We’ll get through it. It will work out. It always does.
For most of us, the plague has been an annoyance, but not a catastrophe. For others, it’s meant sickness, death, job losses and life on the brink of homelessness. There are some great organizations out there that help people in need. Give what you can, especially with all you saved by not buying that new parka from Patagonia.
Merry Christmas. Stay sane.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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As a skier, columnist Tom Kelly has long been aware of his sport’s lack of diversity. But until recently, he’d never realized how it affected him or what his role may be in it.