All I want for Christmas is – what I need


If I had to make a Christmas list – which I don’t, because what I need is more important than what I want – my wishes are light years beyond “peace on earth.”

For one thing, that doesn’t seem like a viable option. Even asking for “peace on America” seems like a divisive enough hope, with people fighting against each other about every step of the way.

Even “peace on Wyoming” sounds naive when I look at how friends, neighbors and outsiders view this state, inside and out, where I found refuge almost 40 years ago.

Back then, Jackson was a very small, talented and creative town that closed up on Labor Day weekend and reopened with Teton Village skiers before Christmas. I could go home to family for six weeks and walk on an Atlantic beach, in any weather, with my sister who lived in Brooklyn. I could work at the neighborhood Italian hockey bar in Binghamton on chicken wing nights.

My family lived less than 200 miles apart, making get-togethers much simpler.

Now, one brother close to the Pine Barrens and drives through two more states to work each day; my sister settled in the stretched-out, tree-lined suburbs of New Jersey. My other brother moved to New York City – as I’ve mentioned before we grew up on a dirt road several miles from what was a small hamlet in central New York. He was always within two or three blocks of yuppie gentrification – but not close enough for me to brave staying with him often. Later he moved north, just outside of the city.

Three siblings, all within Thanksgiving dinner distance of each other. And me, out here in the boonies. Where family visits are sporadic enough that we don’t actually have a guest room.

The balance is shifting.

Several days ago, the “upstate” brother announced he’s moving to El Paso… Texas… where we fly into to visit my mother who chose Deming, New Mexico, as her final address.

So now three of us Uffords will live west of the Mississippi, west of the Rio Grande, even. Even so, the distances between us are still vast. Mom and Scott will always be warmer than I. Scott’s block has a palm tree on the corner. Welcome to the wide open west!

Bondurant is a beloved haven for me and others who desire solitude and beauty. That’s going to change, to my deepest regret. I don’t spend as much time “at home” as I’d like. If someone asks what I’d do if I ever retire, I say that I’d like to have more time to focus more on my garden, home and travel.

As we get older, time flies so much more quickly; we worry about our health and others; we wonder if we’ll ever see so and so again… The pandemic has altered my life without question, and I automatically give someone ahead of me in line 6 feet and want the next person to show the same respect for me. I also want to hug the people I care about.

What I want for Christmas is $1 million, a Mediterranean beach, a younger horse who reads my mind instead of his, a road trip with my significant other (anywhere?), 2 tons of good topsoil and for everyone I know and love to be happy with where they are in their respective lives.

What do I need? I pretty much have it all.

I need to love and be loved, which I do and am. I need to watch the full moon set over the mountains as the rosy sun comes up to the east. I need to work, I need to bake cookies once in awhile and I need to feel like I’ve done something that counts. And yes, I need my solitude as much as I need to be around people who show kindness.

I don’t have a list for Santa; my needs are pretty simply filled with cooperation, love, humor, kindness, hugs, a 12-year-old roommate, a strange cat and some crazy dancing on my spiral staircase.

Peace on Earth! Peace on Wyoming! Peace on you.

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