Christmas At The Biltmore


I decided to do Christmas a little differently this year. The hypothesis was simple : What would Christmas be like if you took away some of the commercialization and replaced it with a little more contentment - without being a total scrooge. Well, I began by taking the family up to North Carolina during this past winter break to visit the in-laws and all things rural. I could tell you all about the sound of the wind blowing through the trees as if they were all laughing into the morning air. Perhaps the sight of the woods filled with snow by day as if the clouds fell from the sky during the night. Maybe even tell you about the scent of the forest as if I was walking inside of a giant sized aromatherapy store, but I'd rather share about what really grabbed my attention.

Like the sound of family laughing each time Jordan kept taking off her socks and using them as teething aids. How Austin & Caitlyn pretending to be arch-enemies by day, then becoming allies during the night, while having to share the same air mattress. And of course the scent of blueberry pancakes, cinnamon french toasts, bagels with lox and all the flavored kaluah coffee one can drink. However, on the third day of our materialism detox, I thought my little social experiment was going to fall apart. The in-laws decide they want to take us to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville which is America's largest home with over 150 rooms sitting on an 8,000 acre lot. I mean this place was ridiculous with its tapestry covered vaulted ceilings, a maid and butler call button in every room and a 70,000 gallon in-door swimming pool. Geez, here I am trying to teach the family about contentment and now we're taking a pilgrimage to the "Mecca" of consumerism!!

"What does it take to be content?" 

I mean do we really need a room for every activity known to mankind. Nevertheless, I quickly turned the whole experience into a teaching time as I posed the same question I kept asking myself about contentment to my kids. Honestly we had some neat conversations along with all the "you know you're rich" jokes you can come up with. This Christmas I was content not in things that will find themselves on a shelf somewhere in a couple of months but in things that will remain etched in the soul for a lifetime. Things like seeing the way my kids experienced snow and skiing for the first time. And in a twist of irony, meaningful conversations about simplicity in the most unexpected of places.