Memories of a Colorado Christmas

YOUR COUNTY
Jim Baumgart 
Sheboygan County Supervisor

One of my most memorable Christmases came while serving in the United States Army at Ft. Carson, Colorado. It was back in the early 1960s and Christmas was only a day away. There was a small group of us, good friends in the unit, who hung around together and were looking for something interesting and positive to do - going to a bar in town was not an option.

As for background, Ft. Carson is a United States Army base located just east of the Rocky Mountains, within easy sight of Pike’s Peak and in the shadow of the North American Defense Commend, an early warning U.S. Air Force facility buried deep within Cheyenne Mountain. Not far away was the community of Colorado Springs. Its roots were founded by the first American natives and early Spanish settlements, but with urban development, building of Ft. Carson, and U.S. Air Force responsibilities, the changes were startling by the time I reached the area.

One of our crew suggested we take a weekend afternoon to drive along the base of the mountain range to experience some of the many interesting rock formations located nearby. It was agreed and soon we were headed out for a scenic tour. After maybe an hour, we had driven past cattle ranches, forested areas and some grain farms until we reached a ranch that advertized “Horses for Rent.” Let’s stop, someone said, so we pulled in and stopped at the ranch house.

The owner was certainly surprised that someone would come right before Christmas but was also concerned because the ground was frozen and care was needed to safeguard the animals. After all, we were young soldiers. We convinced him we were looking for something positive and special to do during this Christmas holiday and a ride along the edge of the mountain and its trails seemed just perfect. He agreed.

It was nice. As we traveled for maybe a half an hour or so we began to feel the strength and greatness of the mountains and the freedom of the landscape around us. We nearly stopped talking. It was so quiet, a touch of crispness in the air, little to no wind and it was just us and the movement and sound of the horses.

As we moved along through a pine forested area a light snow began to fall. The clouds, changing skies, the whiteness developing on the evergreen trees and a peace seemed to surround us - it was Sunday, Dec. 24, and it almost felt as if we were in the quiet of an outdoor chapel. Maybe it was the closeness to Christmas, the loneliness of soldiers being far away from home and family, or the fellowship of having good friends together, but we all felt something and it was special. This was a memorable Christmas experience while in the service of our country and one I have long remembered.

Christmas is different for each us. Not all of us have it easy this time of year. Maybe way too much is stressed on the tree, glitter, money, and presents - although that can and does bring joy to children and their families, it can also bring pressure to many people.

But what it often does, too, is to bring something good out of most of us - we give a little more, we share and care a little more, we think about others a little more and it tends to bring us together a little more - at least for a while. It can be a very good time and people tend to try to make it so. Thanks to a rancher and a few fellow soldiers, that was the case for our ride on Christmas Eve afternoon along a quiet snowy Colorado evergreen trail so many years ago.

Since I have been allowed for nearly 10 years to write this “Your County”column, my family and I would like to take this opportunity to wish one and all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year of hope, good health and cheer.


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