David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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A Partridge in a Pear Tree


Christmas is different in the mountains. Down below there are lighting contests, fake Santas everywhere, office parties, house parties, caroling parties, shopping, various requests for charitable donations and reminders everywhere that, as Stan Freberg said, “There are two Ss in Christmas and they’re both dollar signs.”

Fewer of us are here at Christmas. Many of us spend the holiday with families far from our mountains. For those of us who hang around, though, there’s something wonderful and peaceful about Christmas in our valley.

Very often it snows, of course, which only adds to the quiet beauty. It also gives us a better opportunity to think about our many blessings.

My father preached a Christmas sermon every year in which he talked about the old Christmas song, “A Partridge in a Pear Tree,” long before that song became newly popular. He said he thought the song particularly appropriate because, after all, of what use is a partridge in a pear tree? Certainly not as useful as a new vacuum cleaner or handkerchiefs. “But then,” he said, “of what use was a baby in a barn?” His point was that the greatest gifts are those which have no other purpose than to bring joy to the recipient or to the world. And that might be a vacuum cleaner, or a toy, or a partridge in a pear tree, or a baby in a barn.

In our mountains it might be a chickadee in a pine tree, but you get the idea.

As time goes on more and more people come here, look around and ask, “What use is it?” Increasingly, they find uses for the wood, the water and even the rocks, which they haul away to become useful somewhere else. Our National Forest and Park have become support systems for various parts of our national and local economies, and we measure their success in terms of numbers of tourist days, and the cash in the till at the end of the season.

This place is surely the greatest gift we will ever have, with all its grandeur and majesty, on a snowy Christmas Day, perfectly, utterly as useless as a partridge in a pear tree, or a baby in a barn. And just as precious.

Merry Christmas.




© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI



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