Beth Brandon

It’s that time of year again. The town is nearly perfect, except for the bone-chilling single digits. There’s a little more going on around us; we’re all still feeling fresh and for the most part, it’s just us locals. Three out of four mountains are open, with the last one joining this weekend. The snow is good, wait, make that great. Could we ask for more? Yes. And we’re about to get it.

As much as we’d love to close the gates and keep the spoils of Aspen all to ourselves, it’s still a tourist town. Share we must, especially for those of us who work for a living. The most direct link to our livelihood is arriving in the form of visitors in just a few short weeks.

The current state of affairs feels like a bustling backstage. It’s lively with musical trills and happy chitchat, until the show goes live. We’re a bunch of pre-Christmas locals with great snow and grins and stories, which is a damn fine combination if you ask me.

But someone, somewhere is counting down the days until they fly to Aspen for the holidays. Even Mariah Carey has that on her calendar. And while that can be easy to forget, it is very important to remember. Keeping a sunny disposition in early December is key in the service industry game.

Many of us are also feeling a little broke at the moment. That’s why we’re being such angels about taking on more hours right now. While this time of year still feels a little quiet, I am absolutely aware of what lies ahead. Rest now is a very smart, very treasured thing.

The broke thing will be gone soon enough. It’s just the time of year where we all suddenly find ourselves with deadlines and gifts to buy and one million things to do and it’s always a kick in the pants. We’ll find our stride in no time.

I suffered from FOMO – fear of missing out — like anyone in their teens, 20s and partial 30s until I discovered JOMO – the joy of missing out. One can really get down with some JOMO if given the right set of circumstances. Basically, JOMO stems from one’s unfaltering ability to care less about where she “should” have been instead of enjoying right where she is.

JOMO also pairs nicely with a tight budget, though isn’t necessary.

FOMO speaks to the fact that we’ll always ask for more in this town, even when things are pretty good. JOMO just means you figured out the loophole in this way of life and are confident in enjoying what is.

Even if you’re broke and bored without steady work, if you bucked up for a ski pass you can still ski every day. That’s called “winning” in most circles.

When everyone fled to Highlands for opening day turns I had a fleeting moment of FOMO — “Will I miss out on the goods?” — until I quickly returned to, “Or, would I rather ski a packed powder base between laps on a warm gondola with an assorted group of old friends?” You know, the ones that still live here, but that you never actually see because your work schedules don’t jive. Until the moment they do. Then you joyfully miss out on Highlands for another equally fun day. Aspen’s fun like that. JOMO for the win!

I actually think JOMO might be one of the more important qualities to develop in a person’s time here. Wow, that’s so well-adjusted sounding of me. Better get my party pants back from the dry cleaners and fix that!

Anyhoo, skiing is primo, people are still nice, friends can be seen and appreciated both near and far and you can get your Christmas tree permit at ACRA this year. Hello, how great is that? A drive up to Lenado or Ruedi or Castle Creek Valley provide some of the nearest tree-accessible sites. Sure it was 4 degrees on Monday afternoon, but we had a purpose and our tree is beyond charming. I remembered how much I enjoyed getting her all dressed up last year and being outside doesn’t stink if you’re prepared.

I feel pretty relaxed about the whole holiday thing, as of today. Cut to me in approximately 18 days and ask again. Or maybe it’ll hit after Christmas. A holiday season just wouldn’t be complete without a little stress and a Christmas cry.

Town is about to go from zero to 60. My advice to those of you worker bees would be to forget the FOMO on New Year’s Eve and skip straight to JOMO. Treat yourself to a night in or sign up to work. “Why yes, I would be delighted to take home cash and good decisions to start a New Year!”

It’s early in the game, but I’ve got a good feeling about this winter.