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Beyond the glitz — some interesting traditions

I don’t much care for the glitz, glitter and materialism of the secular Christmas. Christmas lights seem a bother, particularly if I have to put them up, which I don’t. My husband does that.

A Christmas tree seems a waste of a tree. I’m not a bleeding-heart environmentalist, but there are plenty of things for which I think it is more worthwhile for a tree to give its life. Shedding in my house isn’t one of them.

When the children were little, since I’m not a conscientious objector to live Christmas trees, we would go out into the woods and have the children choose the scrawniest, lopsided, and often times even the most scraggly (see-through) tree. Why? Obviously that little fella’ wasn’t getting enough sunlight, and I figured a little forest thinning would be good for his neighbors. Also, I figured my own kids would tire of looking at such an unsightly tree and be frustrated by how much effort it took to get it looking presentable. At some point, they suggested a faux tree; a big, perfectly proportioned blue spruce. We still have the tree, but are not in the habit of setting it up unless the now grown children are going to be home for Christmas.

And for me, 10 minutes spent shopping is five minutes too many. When Courtney was old enough to express an interest in shopping, her dad or my girlfriend would take her. I offered to cook dinner for them instead.

I am not, however, offended by the glitz, glitter and materialism of the secular Christmas. And I don’t begrudge the pleasure others get from them. I go back to my old saw about how horribly boring it would be if we were all the same in our likes and dislikes. Variety makes the world go round.

Christmas traditions are as varied as the people who celebrate the holiday. What catches my interest more than anything else are origins of these traditions. Here’s a look at some popular symbols of the season and how they might have come to be.

Christmas tree: Germans would decorate fir trees, inside and out, with roses, apples and colored paper. The tradition hit England and America via the German immigrants in Pennsylvania in the 1800s. Of course, a Christmas tree isn’t complete without ornaments. Decorating trees dates back to the Victorian times. Woolworth department store sold the first manufactured Christmas tree, and the trend spread.

Stockings: A man was so sad over the death of his wife that he spent all his money. Unfortunately, this left his three daughters without money for wedding dowries. St. Nicholas wanted to help the poor girls’ cause, so he anonymously threw three pouches of gold down the chimney of their home. The coins landed in the stockings of the women, who had hung them by the fireplace to dry.

Mistletoe: The Scandinavians thought of mistletoe as a peaceful and harmonious plant. And they linked Frigg, their goddess of love, with mistletoe. The combination of these two schools of thought brought about the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed beneath the mistletoe were thought to have happiness and good luck the next year.

And so, whatever stories you want to believe or whatever your sentiments are about the holiday season: God bless you and yours.

PLPOA update

The Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association has one vacancy for a volunteer position on its board of directors. Per the bylaws, the applicant, if appointed, would have to stand reelection at the next annual meeting. It is the board’s intention to interview all applicants and appoint the new director as soon as possible.

The board is inviting interested PLPOA members who are in good standing and permanent residents to apply for this volunteer position. Application forms can be obtained from the association office in person, by e-mail at, or by mail. Applications must be returned to the association office by 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6. Mailing address: Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, 230 Port Ave., Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Phone: 731-5635 or (888) 467-5762.

Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center memberships (annual and six months) for 2012 are currently available to property owners and their renters. Use of the facility begins immediately upon purchase. Membership prices remain the same as they have been for the past four years.

Be reminded that the recreation center will close at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve and all day on Christmas.

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