The offseason has officially ended and I didn’t travel much this time around. It was glorious! I cruised Main Street talking with fellow locals who were also here and the sense of community filled my soul with a calm I haven’t had in quite some time.

Sitting at the Coffee Cowboy with my parents visiting from their home in Montrose one lovely Thursday afternoon, we sipped coffee and took in the peaceful scene. A moment later a fellow co-worker with a wide-eyed smile and massively curly hair came walking towards us with a warm greeting. “Hi! What a nice day!” Ahead of him, pulling gently on the leash, was an adorable Dachshund pup dressed in a colorful plaid sweater covering its long, skinny body, little legs and dangling ears. It was like a scene from “The Grinch,” and my mom commented that Telluride feels like Whoville. I couldn’t agree more — everything around us was pleasantly friendly, relaxed and welcoming. Even the young lady at the coffee shop commented on how nice this time of year is. When it all slows down and we can “just be.”  My exercise class that morning was small and intimate. The grocery store felt empty. Ah, offseason. What a joy.

A week later and as the snow begins to fall, the winter hats and gloves are covering the chilly extremities. Smiles form and the anticipation of the holiday season begins to spread throughout the quaint valley. I sit with friends from the morning exercise class and we talk of what fun lies ahead as the winter season begins.

“Have you seen the reports of the massive amounts of glading that has been done on the ski hill to remove trees and stumps?” one enthusiastic friend said. “It should be a great year, there is a report of moisture in the air!” another exclaims. It is in these moments that the joyful community bonds together to create that excited energy for the season about to begin.

Living life in a ski town is probably the coolest feeling there is. We gather from many areas around the world and make ourselves at home in this tiny town. We spread a feeling of fellowship quickly as friendly faces are seen walking in for a warm breakfast around us. The pretty woman behind the counter smiles endlessly as she greets the customers. I ask her how she handles the transition from the quiet offseason group to the larger winter crowds.

“It’s all fun,” she says with a smile as wide as a kid’s in a candy store. “It gets busy, it gets quiet, it gets busy again, I love it!”

Where else can you be that a barista is so positive and eager to serve? 

So, how do we pass along this feeling of joy as things begin to get crazy? I am thinking again of the movie “The Grinch” when the shopping begins, presents are stacked, ribbons flying, garland hangs from trees and the streets are overflowing with crowds on Noel Night.

It is in this chaos that we truly need to rely on one another to keep chipper, smiling and calm. We are the welcoming committee for the sweet town of Telluride during the holiday season. Perhaps a reminder of the practices of mindfulness and gratitude would help. Mindfulness is a practice that dates back 2,500 years to ancient India and modern day Nepal, introduced by the Buddha as a way of achieving enlightenment. Today, mindfulness is a popular word that can mean many things to many people. The simplest description is to be in the moment — to be present. With a basic breath in and out, there is a sense of order within. It can remove you from the craziness and ground you to yourself. Once you take a few moments to do this, to just be with yourself, you can then re-engage and hold the mindfulness with you and it can translate into a peaceful state of being. Others will feel this energy and together you can carry on more relaxed and present.

Gratitude — to be grateful. It’s the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. This recognition can open your heart and mind to those around you. If we wake each day with a sense of gratitude for the little things: the bed we slept peacefully in, the clean air we breathe and the love we feel from others, then little by little we will each make this world a better place to live.

Enjoy the serenity and beauty of the beginning of this holiday season and hold close that idea of Whoville. Even as the attitude of the Grinch can begin to creep into our minds, take a moment to just breathe and think of Cindy Lou Who. She does an amazing job of reminding her family, and even the Grinch, of what it means to spread joy and love during the holidays. With her cute pigtails and dimples as deep as cherries she emanates the true meaning of the holiday season when she says, “It isn’t about the presents, or the fancy lights. I don’t need anything more than my family right here. Oh and don’t forget the Grinch, I think he is kind of … sweet.”

Spread the cheer, love and peace, and have a wonderful holiday season!