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The Gift of Time
This is the time of year when we think about presents. For many of us it’s the first chance we’ve had to think about Christmas, what opening up and dawn till dusk work and closing up. The rest of us are recovering from the visitors: the relatives, friends and colleagues who just wanted to “stop by for a few days.” It was nice to have a little slower pace as we watched the aspens turn and waited for that first morning when the whole valley changed from green to white.
What we say to ourselves is, “Now I have time to think about Christmas, but what happened to all the time I used up this summer?” Most of us just gave it away. Whether it’s giving a passing tourist directions or giving someone the tour of Trail Ridge or your umpteenth hike to Ouzel Falls or Dream Lake or looking after the place for succeeding generations, that’s where the time went, and it’s the gift of your time that makes the difference.
This has been on my mind because I have recently take advantage of a few idle moments to write the history of the John Grant homestead my father and grandfather bought in 1917 on Big Owl Road. The Estes Park Museum is revising and expanding Mabel Durning’s “Reminiscing in the Allenspark Area.” and Lorna Knowlton asked me for a piece. I found some good pictures and my grandchildren will no doubt be interested. Maybe you should write something, too. Don’t put it off; eventually it will be too late.
I still live on the remnants of the Grant homestead. That I have any of it at all is a result of the thought and planning and time my grandfather and father spent considering what should be done with the property. The gave me a little of their time and, for a little while, like the Indians and John Grant and Edward and Richard Steiner, I will have the privilege of owning the land, as much as anyone will ever really own it.
My Dad gave me his time in the summers, too. In the winter he was surrounded by people and their problems so he looked forward to the time he could spend alone, fishing our little Roaring Fork, as stream you can easily spit across for most of its four mile length from Chasm Lake. You wouldn’t have to be a very good spitter, either.
Sometime he took me along. We fought our way through the alders lining its banks, snagged our hooks on submerged logs and looked longingly at the big fish in the beaver ponds that were far too wise to go after our bait. By the end of the day we would have been all the way to the highway and back, our feet wet, and covered with mosquito bits. Early in the summer we would have to look for ticks, too. But we also brought back nice little brook trout and they made some memorable breakfasts.
I guess what’s really important about gift giving is, well, the thought. The time, really, someone spent thinking about it and deciding what to give, whether it’s Fruit of the Month for Aunt Minnie in Ft. Lauderdale or a good book and a visit with a sick friend.
Over the years I’ve give and received hundreds of presents, but most of them have lost their shine or gone out of fashion or become obsolete or have just plain worn out. The memory of someone’s gift of time, though, like the one my father gave me, whenever you unwrap it, is always just as bright, just as precious as the moment it was given. That’s what makes it the best present of all. Merry Christmas.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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