“Are you going home for Christmas?” I asked my co-worker, fellow lift-operator Ryan.
“Nah, too expensive. Besides, I have to work Christmas Day,” he replied.
Thus began a series of similar conversations held between myself and most of my co-workers. Working at a ski resort, while having many perks, also required working all the holidays. After mulling over the impending, potentially lonely, few weeks, I came up with a tradition that still holds to this day: Orphan Christmas.
While it varies from year to year, most of the components are the same. The invites go out about a week before Christmas for our Orphan Christmas Eve Dinner. This usually works best for most mountain employees, as the next week will be the busiest of the year (excluding a few three-day weekends and Spring Break). After assigning easy (read: cheap) dishes to bring, my transplant friends congregate in our living room for an orphan feast and yuletide camaraderie. After dinner, our White Elephant gift exchange begins. The only requirement is it must be something you did NOT purchase. Used gear, handmade gifts, and “coupons” for different services (“I will walk your dog while you are in Utah skiing in March”) were the bounty.
Hosting our tradition has proven that simpler times are possible and the wealth of friends is the best gift of the year.