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Living in a mountain town has always meant following a vacation schedule opposite that of residents of larger cities and towns: when winter break comes, everyone leaves the city and heads for the mountains, filling our community with friends, families, visitors, guests, shoppers, diners, and the occasional family dog. For me, this means sticking close to home over the holidays to have the opportunity to see family and also meet and hang out with friends and guests that visit the mountains. From such circumstances arose a favorite annual ritual – a ski day on Christmas.

On Christmas morning at my house, you can always count on one thing: old school, from a cardboard tube, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. We wake up early, walk the dog, and enjoy a quiet first few hours at home before the hustle and bustle that comes later in the day, when we venture out to ski and celebrate. There is bacon, there is coffee, there is a fire in the fireplace, and at some point we start piling together our gear to head up to the mountain to ski.

After our quiet Christmas breakfast, my husband and I usually head to Northstar. Getting up on the mountain and enjoying the fresh air is a great break from all the food and fireside festivities during this time of year. This year we were treated to a weeks’ worth of storms, culminating in a big, cold storm that wrapped up in the wee hours of Christmas morning. By the time we arrived at Northstar to meet our friends, the roads had been cleared, the traffic was light, and there was fresh powder everywhere we turned. Some friends hit the Backside, some stuck to the mellow trees of Powder Bowl, and some got an early start on the apres-ski cocktail menu in The Ritz living room. Near the end of the ski day, we met up for Northstar’s Champagne Tost on the East Ridge of the mountain, then headed back home to prepare for dinner.

On Christmas night we always try to circle back to enjoy dinner and the evening with family members that live in the area. Happily this year found many of my in-laws close to home in Reno. We invited everyone over to our house and wound down the day in the same way that we started, with a yummy meal, a cozy fire, and great company.

It’s always a good holiday when you have your health, your friends, your family, and – every now and then – a few feet of fresh powder.