By Katherine Teague
Stillness permeated the air at the bottom of the hill. Blue sky soared overhead stretching to the towering mountains in the distance, and fresh snow frosted the ground and sparkled in the radiating sunlight. It wasn’t going anywhere soon—not when the thermometer read only 5 degrees Fahrenheit!
Boot prints sunk deep into the white-laced drive, and the snow crunched under foot. With every drawn breath the cold air was icy to the lungs and bitter to exposed skin, but it did not deter the mounting anticipation of what this day would hold. Turning the corner at the greeter’s station the scene changed. The stark, cold stillness of the day was abruptly transformed by warm smiles from a large team of CPYR staff and volunteers. Groups from the ranch rushed around in a concerted effort to make sure everything was just right, each feeling high expectation of something special.
Warmth flooded the space as broad grins flashed from faces, fragrant smoke poured forth from the barn chimney and other fires bellowed within the confines of three outdoor pits. Inside sugar cookies, brownies and holiday treats were laid out with care. Throughout the barn candles lit up windows and old fashion lamps washed the tables with warm light. Garlands graced the walls and the tree stood tall in the corner with stars, boot ornaments, lights and a burlap ribbon draped around for decoration. Smells of Christmas filled all senses—gingerbread, pine, sugar cookies and peppermint. It was a special day. For the second year in a row, the staff and volunteers of Crystal Peaks had the honor of hosting a Christmas celebration for our regional military men and women.
Members of the Pacific Northwest National Guard Unit poured into the barn. One could nearly watch families take a deep breath and relax, remembering the joyous time they spent in the same place last year. Food was eaten, kids and their parents sat around the tables playing games, conversation and laughter filled the room; and all the while, the fire roared in the wood stove. Upstairs featured a fun variety of things to do such as cookie decorating, rope tying and woodworking stations. Soon, many ventured outdoors to try their hand at roping cow dummies, while others visited with the horses and then warmed frigid fingers while roasting s’mores. It wasn’t long before kids discovered the sledding hill—even the commanding officer joined in for a hilarious ride!
Once again, this time together filled our hearts with a renewed sense of joy and hope. We are so grateful for all that the military men and women—and their families—sacrifice to serve our country. Preserving freedom comes at great cost—we do not take that lightly. What an honor it was to say thank you while laughing, playing and sharing a meal with those who impact our lives in such a powerful way.
In part because of the freedom earned for us, we look forward to many more years of celebration to come!