We thought we’d be extra adventurous this year, and trade our typical tropical climate for a brave escapade into an extremely harsh and frozen one. Our girls have been craving snow almost ever since we left it six years ago. To appease them, we decided to venture a ski vacation with Brandon’s Mom and sister Ashley’s family, over Christmas and the New Year.
Little did we know we were also choosing the highest altitude (summit: 12,998 feet) ski resort in North America, at Breckenridge, in Colorado. We all felt shortness of breath due to the elevation. The climate is also very dry, which left our skin, noses, eyes, and throats feeling rather parched.
It is a cute town, with an extensive and quaint main street. We didn’t explore it as much as we’d have liked, mostly due to the fact that we didn’t want to wander around outside in the cold temperatures. Cold phobic-ness strikes again. However, as we discovered this trip, there truly are some legitimate reasons for that. For example, Emily got a bit of light frostbite on her toes from just a short stint of waiting outside for Crepes Ala Cart on Christmas Eve, and Marie developed a mild but miserable case of hypothermia after being in our outdoor hot tub in the frigid -17°F temperatures. It took her a few days to recover.
On a more positive note, our holiday home was beautiful and fully decorated, complete with a big, live Christmas tree hung with ornaments and lights. The cabin was moose themed, including an array of moose hats we could deck ourselves out with. There was a lot of land surrounding the cabin, with rolling hills and a thick layer of pristine snow just waiting to be played in, which was priority number one for our girls. So, first on the agenda was a romp in the snow with Grandma Alli and then some sledding with Brandon.
We had delicious breakfasts together such as oatmeal with berries, vanilla yogurt, white chocolate chips, cinnamon, granola, and honey. We even went to the effort of preparing a hearty pancakes, bacon, and eggs medley one morning.
Nostalgic family favorites were on the menu for dinners, such as taco soup, pasta, and chicken pillows with mashed potatoes, and desserts such as chocolate almond balls, Oreo truffles, caramel popcorn, and wassail. And a new favorite, Casey grilled up some monster hamburgers in the bitter cold that were the best I’d ever had.
Grandma Alli taught us how to crochet, so we could help make scarves and hats for our sock snow people on our crafting night. As you can see, they turned out adorably. Can you spot the superhero, red hijab woman, Santa Claus, and Frenchman?
Santa even made a personal visit to our cabin in the woods one night, bringing along candy canes and exquisitely soft, fuzzy scarves to share with the girls.
We enjoyed an extended family gift exchange one evening, which was a rare treat for us, since we’re usually far away from family during the holidays. The most exciting surprise for us all, was when Ashley and Casey announced they are expecting their very own “Pricelette” baby, due to arrive at the end of July!
We did our traditional New Year ceremony together of releasing the old and welcoming the new, while sipping some fancy champagne and sparkling cider.
We watched a couple holiday shows, but mostly we focused on our big Star Wars movie-a-thon, viewing all six episodes from the comfort of our cozy cabin. We then went to see episode seven in a historic building which was renovated last year to become the Speakeasy Theatre in Breckenridge.
We had plenty of sunny weather ski days to play around with. Brandon and the girls tackled a full day of snowboard and ski lessons, respectively. I took this opportunity to have an indulgently blissful selfie-date. I skied Peak 9 in rhythm with my own flow for hours of fun, my first time on the slopes in over 10 years! I enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Overlook Restaurant perched on the ski hill at 11,274 feet. I met and conversed with many interesting people in the chair lifts on my way up the mountain. The snow was top-notch, the scenery breathtaking, the runs excellent, and the service at Breck Sports rental shop was so friendly, convenient, and helpful. What more could a girl ask for?
The next day, Aysia, Emily and I went skiing with Casey, Ashley, and Kennedy. Thank goodness Casey was there to help Aysia down the mountain, because she seemed to have forgotten everything she learned in her lesson the day before. Emily was more nervous than she expected on the ski hill as well, so Ashley and I worked on building her confidence while we coached her down to the bottom.
We had a couples skiing date the day after, where Brandon, surprisingly, tried his luck at skiing. After my disastrous attempt to teach him many years ago, I thought he’d completely given up on the idea. This time we had Casey to help instruct, and Brandon took off like a pro! Thank you also to Ashley for her fabulous video coverage of the momentous event. We were all really impressed, especially since Brandon was still pretty sore from his snowboard lesson a couple days earlier. While we skied, the girls stayed home with Grandma Alli and did things like sledding and building snow forts. On New Year’s Day, Ashley and I unwound on a sisters ski date as well, which we both really appreciated.
There’s nothing quite like a cozy, bonding holiday with some of our very favorite people, especially those we just can’t seem to get enough of. We laughed, cried, healed, helped, played, shared, loved, relaxed, and worked side by side in ways that made beautiful memories we will treasure forever. Mishaps and all, it certainly doesn’t get much better than that. Those kinds of loving, whole-hearted connections are what make my life worth living. It was certainly our girls’ favorite holiday celebration yet! Be sure to check out Brandon’s video at the bottom of this post, it’s really heart-warming.
The second day of January found us all eating a first-rate farewell breakfast in Frisco at the Log Cabin Cafe, before it became time to go our separate ways. Flying out of the Denver airport, we were sad to say goodbye to our amazing family, but looking forward to a change from the combination of dry, cold, thin air. As it turned out, Breckenridge is the exact polar opposite of where we were headed next. Stay tuned for our Fijian adventures, coming up soon!
There is a lot of preparation that goes into these kinds of holiday celebrations, from travel planning, activities, and warm weather gear collecting, to gift shopping, menu creation, and food preparation. For myself, I find that building habits of mindfulness and presence are a priceless part of my own efforts. Tuning into a focus of thoroughly appreciating and absorbing these special times is what really brings them to life for me, in the most satisfying and meaningful ways. As an added bonus, the positive reflections I come away with just keep on giving.
We definitely had some challenges thrown into the mix, some of which I’ve outlined in this post. But as we all know, having only positive experiences isn’t what life is all about. How we view and what we do with all of our experiences, both positive and negative, is what really makes the difference. I find that the whole tapestry of emotions, fully felt, is such a beautiful work of art. It provides a deep well of experience, integration, and understanding for me to draw from.
What are some of your most appreciated moments from this past holiday season? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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A Victorian December
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What a great trip! It’s so rewarding when we can get together with loving family for extended periods and enjoy bonding time. I’m glad our kids had the chance to experience snow again, too. While we had some troubles, and I’m still in some ways recovering from the beating I took on the slopes, we made some great memories and you’ve captured them beautifully here. Thank you!
I’m so glad the girls could experience the snow again too, and Aysia for the first time. I know they thoroughly appreciated it. I really enjoyed skiing again too, despite all the effort and expense, and it was so nice to see you doing such an awesome job with it yourself. I’m going to watch your sweet video again right now. :)
I think this is my all time favorite post. It truly warmed my heart and brought tears as I watched you play together and enjoy one another so much. It was fun to see the girls perform and display the snowmen ( I did find Santa, the French man and the Red lady. The snow and activities there In sure looked cold but so very fun.
Thanks Jen and thanks to Brandon for the video. Loved Every Thing.
Thank you, Grandma! It’s great to hear your feedback and that you enjoyed the post and video so much. :) We love you!!
I loved re-living this time together through your words, photos and video… it was such a wonderful holiday memory for me. Though it really was soooooo cold! And I’m not sure I ever need to visit that elevation again LOL
That first day in the snow with the girls was so much fun… Emily and Marie in absolute heaven, and Aysia’s trepidation about this cold white stuff turning into glee. And I actually had a great time making my own snow angel – though the getting up afterward part took a village :)
The togetherness, the conversation, the food, the fun – all wonderful memories… in spite of the challenges we dealt with.
Can’t wait for our next adventure together!
It was so entertaining to watch the girls all playing in the snow together with you after so much anticipation! I’m glad the experience lived up to their expectations. For example, in watching the part in the video of Aysia falling off her sled, I remember being relieved that she got up smiling instead of crying. I loved seeing how everyone’s unique contributions to our retreat each added so much to our experience, and how we were able to all work together in love and support during the difficult moments. Looking forward to our next one as well! We love you!!
Oh my, what a beautiful post from a beautiful family. Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing and it warms my heart you had such a great time in my corner of the world here in Colorado. Love just oozes from these photos and video and I can see how God has truly blessed your world.
I am forever grateful in getting to know Brandon a few years back where he introduced me to Michael Brown’s “The Presence Process” and granted me an interview on my website. It makes me happy to see how he’s carried that forward in his life and is blessed by it.
Thank you again — I am so happy to be connected even if it’s just via the internet and the blogging community. God bless all of you! (I would like to share your video and link to your post if you don’t mind. Please let me know if ok.) :-)
Thank you, Pat! It’s so great to hear from you and get your sweet feedback! Yes, we’d be honored to have you share the video and link to our post. :)
Thank you, Jennifer. Always lovely to see a happy family having fun and enjoying one another. I am so happy to share you all with my connections on FB, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. I admire what you and Brandon are doing as parents and as a family and want to spread the love.
Take care and hope you’ll be back in Colorado again. Maybe, next time we could meet since you’ll be in my corner of the world. :-)
Thanks for the recap of the trip. We love that area and look forward to going back next year for one of our adventures.
Thanks, Dad! I really appreciated being able to chat with you virtually during our time in Breckenridge and share some of our photos and excitement. I’ll always think of you on adventures like that since we had so many of our own while I was growing up. :) Love you!
I think you just write beautifully. I was excited to read your new post and I can’t wait to read about your experience in Fidji! We’ve been taking about going skiing in the winter but we haven’t done it once since we’ve been together with Marco. I think we love too much the sun!!! But I understand the girls would want some snow. I understand there were some challenges but yes life is about how we face all the challenges. Life with no challenge is no life ;)
Thank you, Millie! Also, I love what you said, “Life with no challenge is no life.” Missing you!
So weird- I thought I had commented on this. Apparently it was a dream. Oh well.
What a fun Christmas holiday! Despite the challenges we faced, it was so lovely to be together. I am so glad we could spend that time bonding and making memories. I am thinking that for our next family gathering, we should make it somewhere a little bit warmer, eh? :) Love you guys!
Love you, Ashley! It’s to be expected that dreams turn into reality right now; you’re expecting a new little pricelette! Yes, let’s meet in a warmer place next time around, for sure. :) San Miguel?
A wonderful little pricelette! And a new niece for you. :) San Miguel sounds lovely!