By Tyler Allen Explorebigsky.com Staff Writer
Christmas is a time to be grateful. Eight years ago the holiday for me became about riding lifts instead of exchanging gifts. I’ve spent one Christmas with my family since I left Vermont for the West eight years ago. I could never afford to fly home at that time of the year. But it’s a great day to be on the hill since most skiers spend the morning opening presents before they drive to the resorts. It’s the end of December, so that means most years there is a solid base. And some years it dumps.

Growing up, my family would sit around the tree and my sister and I were charged with distributing the gifts. Soon enough my grandmother would be the last one with presents beneath the tree. We have a big family that sent packages from around the country. The first few years I was envious watching her open presents while I was itching to play with my new toys. Then I grew up. I became grateful of the smile that lit my grandmother’s face as she opened another gift from her loving family.

This year starts a new chapter. I’ll be skiing in Cooke City during Christmas weekend, with the gears turning and churning me up the hill instead of a lift. Cooke City is given the gift of bountiful snowfall and a remote location that keeps the crowds away like Christmas morning. I’ll call my parents before we leave cell service and tell them I’m grateful for the gift of life that allows me to enjoy this magical part of the world.