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The ‘What are your favorite Holiday traditions?’ edition

Again availing myself of the Foxy Ladies and the Corner Intelligentsia, I queried, “What are your favorite Holiday traditions?”

Here are the answers.

Our people celebrate by decorating the tree, driving around looking at lights, decorating the outside of the house with fairy lights, cutting down a tree with one’s spouse, watching children open presents, oyster stew on Christmas Eve, attending midnight mass then visiting friends into the wee hours of the morning, traveling, caroling, saving change in a jar all year long then leaving it anonymously on a deserving persons front stoop, lining the house with luminaries, Santa leaving ashy footprints by the fireplace, eating posole and tamales, just praying together, holiday baking, gifting family pajamas that everyone opens Christmas Eve and are emotionally blackmailed to wear on the spot, engaging in romantic interludes, watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” making 5,000 decorated cookies to deliver to family and public servants, caroling in sub zero temperatures with their neighbors in Loma Linda.

My favorite tradition came as a story of a tiny child who would wake up every Christmas morning to behold a beautifully-decorated tree where there was none the evening before. She rightfully concluded that Santa had left it. This happened every Christmas. Eventually she wanted to see Santa leave the tree and decided to spy on him. To her surprise she witnessed her parents decorating the tree, happily dancing, laughing and whispering. She assumed that this was her parent’s special romantic tradition. When she was much older she discovered that her parents could not afford a tree and scored a free tree late on Christmas Eve from one of the tree lots. They made Christmas magic out of nothing but love.

There were dark traditions spoken in low tones of drunken beatings, true lack and poverty, lost hope and deaths. These people dread the holidays and the perky merry makers who attempt to force them to have a jolly holiday. There are also people who have no family to recreate the traditions of their past and the festivities only remind them of their aloneness.

No matter our traditions, here at the Silver Foxes Den we strive to tread lightly through the holidays and with each other. Come and join us for whatever your holiday brings, where you will be loved and have a splendid meal.

Senior spotlight

(My disclaimer: I did not understand half of what Jim patiently explained to me about the space program technology, and he asked me not to print most of it. However, it was really exciting!)

Jim Smith (not to be confused with the local realtor) was born in January 1932, in Joliet, Ill. His father died when he was 10 years old, and his mother went to work as a secretary at a local bus company to support him and his brother. With his mother encouraging him, he attended Joliet Junior College while he worked to remodel apartments to pay for it. He then attended University of Illinois with scholarships, supplemented with his work at the local power plant and work at a sorority for meals. After he graduated he was drafted and joined the Marines, stationed outside of a classified base in Las Vegas.

After the Marines, he was ultimately hired by General Electric where he “got into top secret spy stuff,” thermal synthesis, satellite research and development and eventually became a troubleshooter. He transferred to NASA’s support group in Houston. Not enjoying his boss, he called a friend and got hired by NASA. This was an exciting time when “we went to the moon on slide rules.” He explained to me that there were no computers and only archaic electrical systems.

At NASA he was a design engineer who developed the tile system for the space shuttle and was a key participant in all of the NASA accident investigations, including the missions Apollo 8, and the Space Shuttles Columbia and Challenger. Jim was part of the engineering team of design engineers that brought Apollo 13 safely back. He also created experiments for the Space Shuttle missions involving passive thermal control. He commented that he wasn’t aware of the historical impact of his work, that in every instance it was “like building a bridge, you build to a set of requirements. If it doesn’t work, you change it.” While Jim and the astronauts were working, their children were playing together in their neighborhood.

Now retired, Jim and his wife, Gloria, love to travel, volunteer, are active with the San Juan Outdoor Club, do woodworking, crew for Hot Air Balloons, and are active in the ATV club. He is a marvelous storyteller and his favorite moment in his life was when his wife of 18 years, Gloria, “said she would marry me, but she made me give up cigarette smoking first.”

Thank you

Thank you to The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers from La Plata Electric who delivered holiday goodies to our home-delivered meals people. They loved the food and cherished the visit.

Thank you Mary Lou Maehr for destinkifying our facilities with your never-ending donations of deodorizers.

Thank you Beverly Arrendell for easing us into the holiday season with your impromptu piano performance.

Thank you to our precious Silver Foxes Den holiday elves, Dolores Gallegos and Dolores Sauce, who decorated (albeit with less than a jolly spirit) our dining room. Woo hoo!

Thank you to Robin Nay for volunteering to clean up on Mondays!

Thank you, Margaret Olson, for your book donations. We appreciate them.

Art in the afternoon

Serenity Trail Gallery of Fine Arts and Connie Giffin proudly present the work of award-winning artists Donald Voohrees, Dr. Allen Hughes, Lyle Tayson, Arch Unruh, Ben Hampton, Kent Schafer, Jim Plant and Connie Giffin. On Wednesday, Dec. 16, from 1:15-3:30 p.m., Connie will host the Silver Foxes Den for an afternoon of art and presentations at her gallery. This will be an opportunity to view and learn the techniques of our own local artists Kent Schafer and digital photographer Jim Plant.

Serenity Trail Gallery of Fine Arts is located at Talisman and Village Drives on the Northwest Corner behind the new City Market. For those of you who ride the Senior Bus, we will make sure you get there and home. Questions? Call Connie Giffin at 731-0640.

Weekly activities

Friday, Dec. 11 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Tai Chi Intermediate 9:30 a.m.; Tai Chi Beginning 11 a.m.; ASI Election in Pagosa Springs 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; ASI election in Arboles 9-11:00 a.m. (at the convenience store); Gym Walk 11:15 a.m.; Noon Music.

Monday, Dec. 14 — Gym Walk 11:15 a.m.; Seeds of Learning 11:30 a.m.; Canasta 1 p.m.; ASI board meeting 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 15 — Gym Walk 11:15 a.m.; Meditation for Healing 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 16 — Dance for Health 10 a.m.; Healthy Cooking 11 a.m.; Sky Ute Casino 1 p.m.; Serenity Trail Gallery Open House, Art and Photography Presentations 1:15 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 17 — Closed, administrative day.

Friday, Dec. 18 — Geezers 9 a.m.; Tai Chi Intermediate 9:30 a.m.; Tai Chi Beginning 11 a.m.; ASI holiday party lunch; Gym Walk 11:15 a.m.; birthday lunch; holiday sing-a-long; Bring a gift, get a gift!

Our November Archuleta County Senior Center Newsletter is now available on Archuleta County’s Web site: Look it up!


Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus is $3, kids 12 and under and guests $6. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act, United Way, and Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other contributions and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $9.75. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar begins at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 11 — Roast chicken, broth, scalloped potatoes, hot marinated carrots, cinnamon apples, roll.

Monday, Dec. 14 — Barbecue beef brisket, ranch style beans, carrifruit salad, bread.

Tuesday, Dec. 15 — Crunchy fish, whipped potatoes, mixed vegetables, pineapple mandarin salad, roll.

Wednesday, Dec. 16 — Sweet and sour chicken, brown rice, Chinese vegetables, strawberry applesauce, whole wheat roll.

Thursday, Dec. 17 — Closed, administrative day.

Friday, Dec. 18 – ASI holiday party, chicken noodle soup, spinach, fruity slaw, pears, bread.