“Mom, Santa’s getting on the bunny chair!” While this sounds like a punchline, it wasn’t. From our view out the front windows of the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol lodge, at the base of chair 5, my daughter and I, indeed, saw Mr. Clause. It was the Sunday before Christmas, so why shouldn’t jolly ol’ St. Nick take a break from the North Pole?

 Witnessing Santa swooshing down the slopes is just one way to experience Christmas magic (and your kids can have that opportunity again this December at local ski mountains). And there are many ways to experience the magic of winter, from the whimsical to the spiritual to natural wonders—like ice crystals glistening in the sunshine, or catching big, fluffy snowflakes on your tongue. For me, anything that inspires awe feels like magic: a dramatic sunset viewed from the summit of Mt. Spokane during night skiing; untracked powder and looking back to see my S-turn artwork; or my young son and daughter, instead of fighting, snuggling together under a blanket to watch “Polar Express.”

One of the best settings for soothing our senses is nature. Exploring a forest trail on cross-country skis or fat bike. Riding the chairlift to a mountain summit and carving your way down a black diamond. Gazing at a starry night sky. The great outdoors inspires peace of mind, and our souls need, even crave, beauty and silence. So, whatever brings you peace and joy, do more of that this season. 

Whether you celebrate Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any combination of these, the spirit of this holiday season should make our hearts grow bigger, just like what happened to the Grinch. And I’m sure we can all agree that our world needs more shared love, joy, and kindness these days. Intentional expressions of caring, generous giving and sharing—these become contagious throughout our communities. We find ourselves being more patient with everyone—the whiny child, the grumpy Boomer, the group of snowboarders sitting in the middle of a run. 

This year’s holiday guide features ideas and ways for you to find and enjoy your own winter magic, participate in joyful giving, experience new outdoor adventures, and relish this festive season. May you seize as many days as you can from what’s left in 2019; but even though the year is ending, winter is just beginning.Cheers & happy holidays! See you on the mountain!