It’s 4:30 a.m.  So says the alarm clock in big red numbers at our motel room.  But the dogs don’t care.  All they know is they want to go outside.  Simon is old and has trouble holding his urine and I don’t want him to have an accident, so I begrudgingly get up, pull my ski pants and jacket on.  Fumbling around in the dark for my hat and gloves so as not to wake Bryon, I’m finally ready to hook up the leashes to Simon and Shawnee.

We make our way down the stairs and out the doors, and I break out in a huge smile of delight.  About nine inches of snow have fallen since we went to bed and it is snowing hard.  As we wonder around the parking lot, the glistening snow is lit up by the Christmas lights on the trees near the motel.  Shawnee is beside herself with joy as she runs around, literally kicking her legs up in the air.  Next she flops on her back in the snow, wriggling around like a cockroach on its back, making doggy snow angels.  She seems to be as happy over this snow as I am.

After I return to the room and crawl back into bed, it’s hard to sleep.  I periodically grab my smart phone, checking the snow stake camera to see how much more snow has piled up.  My most ardent wish has come true — a big snow day at Winter Park Ski Resort for Christmas of all things.  It’s been a rough start to the ski season with very little snow falling since Thanksgiving.  Fortunately, it’s been cold, so the resorts have been making snow, but us Coloradans are ski snobs.  That’s for the east coast skiers, we want the real deal here, before we are willing to drive the 1 1/2 hours to ski.  And it shows.

Business has been off significantly both for the ski school where I work, and for local businesses.  Winter is their time to rake in the profits, and December has been a rough go for restaurants, shops, and other recreation-based businesses like snowmobiling and nordic skiing.  Since Christmas vacation is a  huge make or break time, the big snowstorm could not have come at a better time.

But the best part is yet to come, when Bryon and I make our way to the slopes, bundled up to keep warm.  The snow is light and soft, turns are easy, and smiles are abundant.  In fact, skiing the deep powder, I find my skis are running too slow due to the warmer wax on the bottoms, as they catch and pitch me forward.  After a quick instawax with F4, we’re back in business.  We test our legs, as we cruise back and forth through the bumps quickly forming on every run.  No groomers today, but lots of fluffy snow flying up in our faces.  By 3 p.m., our legs are burning, but our hearts are full, as we head back to the parking lot.

Christmas pow — it truly was the best Christmas present of all for this passionate skier.