Brexico and the Holidays

by Devon O'Neil on December 13, 2011

The holiday season in Brexico is different than most holiday seasons in the world. For starters, if you go by how long Christmas lights remain on pine trees and buildings in town, which is how I judge it, the season lasts about four months. Some years, five.

This is less a show of laziness and more a fact of life. People in ski towns, particularly those who run retail stores, simply enjoy leaving their decorations up until the season’s over. It’s like when Pavlov made the dog salivate. You might go into your spring-break vacation thinking you’re broke and planning to eat crackers and mustard, but after a few hours walking up and down Main Street and staring at those dang Christmas lights, buying a jacket feels like the only way out.

At least, that’s the logic I imagine we can blame for why the lights stay up so long. I really have no idea. Anyone out there know?

On the island where I was raised, holiday lights went up a few weeks before Christmas and came down the week after. It was a different scene entirely. No quaint little winter-wonderland Main Street, and definitely no snow. I still remember when Santa got busted smoking a joint on the beach. I think I was 10. It made the paper and everything.

If I sound like Scrooge complaining that the lights stay up so long, it’s because in some ways I view the holidays as a shadow of their former selves. The Christmas spirit usually eludes me until the last minute. Mostly because I don’t enjoy shopping, and maybe also because I don’t have children, so it’s not my job to get excited about Santa when I know he’s just a guy with a beard up from Idaho Springs. But when the season gets stretched like Gumby this way and that, suddenly it’s so diluted that I feel like it’s lost its magic.

Bear in mind, I’m writing this in late-November, a few days after Black Friday, the most depressing phenomenon to hijack the world since the Macarena.

I actually love the holidays themselves. I love skiing on Christmas morning and eating turkey that afternoon, then again later that night and on through the rest of the week. I love holiday parties and football, and I love seeing how excited my mom gets on Christmas Eve. I love when it’s cold outside and toasty inside, and I love the lights on our tree at night.

In fact, I was sitting around late last night and feeling a bit cynical about the whole buildup, so I walked downtown with my camera. I wanted to see what kind of decorations people have up — see what the next four months will look like. It surprised me. I walked home feeling better about the season.

Not the winter season, mind you, the holiday season. There is a difference.


Notes from a ski town just north of Ciudad Juárez and just south of Banff.

Breckenridge, Colo.-based Devon O'Neil writes about sports for ESPN and freelances for a number of other publications. His work can be viewed at www.devononeil.com.

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lou skannon December 14, 2011 at 11:39 pm

yeah, it’s fun and touching how something sudden, unexpected, can change everything. my wife was not looking forward to another lonely holiday season when just yesterday “the kids” called, saying they were flying in for the week. and, weather permitting, hopefully we can enjoy a local holiday tradition — a local golf course is free and open to the public Chrissmass Day (!). we yoosta try to do that every year.

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