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Posted November 28, 2016:
We spent the Thanksgiving weekend at
Whistler in British Columbia with our son, Nick, and his family.
A fun time in a winter wonderland.
It was our first trip to the
Whistler/ Blackcomb ski area and village. It is well-organized
to handle a lot of people. A zillion runs for skiing and
snowboarding. I skied one day, doing more steeply vertical
slopes than my usual, but a good challenge. I don’t ski for
speed. I ski for the feeling, which doesn’t happen all that
often, of being graceful. That and the scenery.
The idea of Whistler is that of the
European ski village, with the village is right at the base of
It snowed a lot during our four days,
so that by Saturday (we arrived Wednesday evening) people were
able to ski the footpaths and trails from their hotels to the
lifts. And there is a great system of free shuttle buses for
getting around. No need to drive your car, which is great.
The Whistler “Village Walk” winds
through the cluster of hotels, vacation rentals, stores, bars
and restaurants. And of course at this time of year, it is all
festooned with holiday lights. Or are they called “winter”
Only one thing is missing in this
picture-perfect alpine village, with snow flakes gently falling.
There’s no church. Not that you expect one, as the village is
really an artificial construct and not a real or historical
Still, with the “holidays” upon us,
the bright lights, the shopping (“Black Friday discount on Botox
treatments!”) it seemed to me an absence — no sign at all of a
Certainly avid boarders and skiers
might point to the mountains themselves and the experience of
racing down them (“awesome”) as a sign of transcendence. Maybe
they are right.
Still, a snowy village at the
Christmas holidays without a church, without some hint of the
sacred, of the Christian story, was to me a bit eerie. Is this
the society we are becoming? Well-organized, convenient,
expensive, multi-cultural, even beautiful, but with no holy
story, no mystery, nothing sacred?
It’s not a matter of hammering a
slogan like “put Christ back in Christmas.” And to my mind it’s
preferable to be without Christmas carols as the muzak
background for shopping.
Overall, it’s an absence that is
barely noticed, if at all. Except we notice it in all the ways
we try to fill the God-shaped space within each of us with other
things, adrenaline, alcohol, drugs, shopping. Whether we have
words for it, or not, something is missing.