Joel Reichenberger: Steamboat is a great place to grow up |

Joel Reichenberger: Steamboat is a great place to grow up

Joel Reichenberger

I wonder if the children growing up here in Steamboat Springs realize how well they have it.

I’ve seen Steamboat’s youths soak up the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club experience before, and I long ago came to the conclusion this town would be a great place to grow up. It was a point reinforced while I was covering the many events at Howelsen Hill on Friday and Saturday.

I saw a child, 3, maybe 4 years old, hauling around Nordic jumping skis that were about three times longer than he was tall. He’s probably afraid of whatever’s under his bed, certainly still wary of odd knocks in the night. Ski jumping, however, didn’t seem to make him bat an eye.

Recently, it seems the town even has started to bring out the child in me.

There’s little that excited me more growing up than making out a Christmas list. Mine would be pages long and filled with all sorts of toys and games that momentarily jumped out of the Sears catalog and caught my eye. I asked for ridiculous things – a guitar even though I’ve never had any real interest in playing, a metal detector even though I know of no place to hunt for buried treasure and an ant farm even though I have no idea what one does with an ant farm.

I could never understand why my mom seemed content to ask for and receive clothes and household knickknacks. I vowed then I’d never stop asking for toys. Of course, I eventually did grow up and my Christmas list did, as well. I’ve received and been happy with socks, shirts and even a sports jacket a few years ago.

Living in Steamboat, however, has turned the dial back on my Christmas list.

I’m asking for toys again. This year, I’ll be crossing my fingers in hopes of finding a new set of alpine ski boots under the tree. I’m hoping to find some snowshoes or maybe a ski rack for my vehicle.

Even the clothes I’m hoping for – some warm long underwear for the slopes – are more fun than what I had come to expect the past few years.

I again sat down and slowly and deliberately made my way through magazines, ogling at pictures while I pieced together a list.

I appear to have outgrown some of the more ridiculous ideas. I didn’t ask for a snowmobile, ski jumping equipment or my own grooming tractor.

But, it was great this year to realize I haven’t outgrown all of my old tendencies. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to sleep Christmas Eve hoping to wake up to a tree buried in toys.

I used to wake up about 5 a.m. Christmas morning, praying Santa Claus might have left one gift unwrapped that I could play with until I inevitably crashed into my parents’ room, woke them up and demanded the day start.

More recently, I’ve opted to sleep in Christmas morning.

I don’t know if I still can pull the 5 a.m. routine. But I do know this Christmas already feels different.

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