Post Independent readers share personal stories of Christmas cheer
Christmas traditions can be quite personal, we know. But we reached out to our readers to see if anyone would be willing to share some of their special traditions with other readers this Christmas Day.
We didn’t receive a lot, but we did get a few that we are happy to pass along to help spread some cheer this holiday week.
This one comes from Glenwood Springs native and local historian Carleton “Hub” Hubbard, about a family tradition going all the way back to the late 1800s when the Hubbard family first arrived here.
My grandfather, Charles E. Hubbard, and his wife, Mary, came to Glenwood Springs in 1887. In the next 20 years they had 10 children. Times were tough then, and my father, Carleton Hubbard, told me the following story about Christmas as the Hubbards.
Grandpa worked for the railroad and made about $100 per month, so did not have extra money for gifts. Quite often their only gift was a piece of clothing that grandma had sewn or knitted.
But grandpa was not about to let them have nothing but the clothing, so he came up with the following idea. He bought a bunch of walnuts, and carefully split them apart along the seam. He then removed the “meat” from the nut and set it aside for eating at a later date.
He then inserted a piece of candy into the shell, carefully glued the two halves together, and thereby had managed to provide a small gift for each child in the family. If there was a little extra money available in a particular year, he would insert a quarter into the walnut instead of the candy.
In recent years, I have followed this tradition by doing this for my family and friends.
walk down holiday memory lane
Julie Wiley of Carbondale has special memories of her father, who died last year – especially a certain walking stick they gave him one Christmas.
“I like to call it my ‘chick stick,’” my dad said proudly while admiring his unique, hand-carved walking stick, as if he had handcrafted the stick himself. My mom just rolled her eyes when my dad said that.
The walking stick was a Christmas gift we gave my dad for Christmas back in 2013. After our family moved here from North Carolina 10 years ago, my parents enjoyed visiting us here for long visits at Christmas time, even as they got older and the trips became more challenging.
My dad, in particular, became very attached to Redstone during his visits. It started with a cold, Christmas Eve sleigh ride, to a dinner at the Redstone Inn, to ice cream at the Redstone General Store, to picking out his favorite house on the Boulevard.
“My house is for sale,” he would tell me, checking the real estate listings from home and informing me that if he was 20 years younger he’d be living in Redstone right now.
So, when my dad started having trouble walking, the beautifully carved walking stick from the Redstone General Store was the perfect gift.
My dad loved it and never went anywhere without it. My dad was a big man, and this stick was a large hiking stick that could take him on any adventure – not a cane for the weak.
At the top of the stick was a hand-carved face of a man. The following Christmas, my parents arrived and the stick was decked out with a tiny hat and scarf – “We found it in a store and it was really meant to decorate a wine bottle,” they explained, giving the stick the look of Santa.
Wherever we visited in Carbondale with my parents, my dad drew compliments. “I love your stick!,” everyone told him, but particularly the ladies loved to gather ’round and find out the story behind the stick.
I knew my dad loved the attention.
Losing my dad last year was difficult, but I have my dad’s stick, and the memories of it bring my dad to life. I know he is still telling stories of Redstone and his stick to the ladies where he is now, but wishing he was in Carbondale with us for Christmas.
clues and yule cheer
Melody Harrison of New Castle wrote to tell us that her family plays a traditional game of “clue” each Christmas.
“Each gift has a clue, and the recipient gets to guess first,” she wrote. “Then they can open the guessing up to everyone else, if they want. It’s a great game that we enjoy.”
And Bill Ware of Aspen wrote to share a special memory of singing carols around the yule log fire in an outdoor fire pit, back in the day.
“It was how the working people would enjoy the season,” Ware said. “We would have pleasant conversations, give hugs and wish each other good times and a happy new year, then part for home and enjoy our families.
The tradition originated in the former silver-mining-town-turned-ski-resort from the late 1880s to about 1970, Ware said.
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The Forest Service plans to replace the Carbondale Aspen-Sopris ranger district station with a newer, larger facility.