Despite the loss, Ute Mountain Ute embodies seasonal cheerfulness
TOWAOC – Breaking fixes you, and no one’s time stands still.
Those were the words spoken Wednesday by Darwin Whiteman Jr., member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council.
Reflection seemed inevitable as the tribe mourned the loss of an elder – a funeral was held on the hill and tribal operations were halted.
But the Tribe’s drive-through Christmas dinner at Ute Mountain Casino was a happy event.
As meals were distributed, a blanket of snow covered Towaoc and continued to fall gently as the casino workers and volunteers, smiling and swift, delivered a delicious dose of holiday cheer to the tribe members.
With 10 Days to Christmas, Whiteman was grateful to watch the themes of oneness, empathy, and dedication enveloping the festive spread before him.
âPeople receive what they prayed for,â he said.
Prayer was a mainstay of the day’s provisions – as it is in all tribal endeavors, he said.
With a loss tinged note of the event, Whiteman reflected on the loss of his own father years ago.
âIn life, everything is always fine,â her father told her, dying of cancer.
Whiteman didn’t see him that way, until one day after his father’s death, he did.
âToday is a blessing,â he said.
Every day, he says.
The two drive-thru lanes surrounding the casino were often full. The event was a chance to reconnect with friends and relatives, as well as meet new people, said Whiteman.
Nearby, Whiteman’s feelings manifested on the assembly line, where dozens of workers briskly prepared the 2,000 meals planned for the tribe members.
While in one corner of the casino ballroom Whiteman had reflected positively on the unexpected growth in losses, in another the laughter reverberated over the rows of hot dishes waiting to be packed.
That range of emotions, and experiencing them together, is what vacations are all about, Whiteman said.
âI enjoy laughs while serving great food,â said Raymond Bigman.
And he was. Bigman and his friends joked throughout the business, influencing others nearby with their cheerful dispositions and quick jokes.
Chaz Hamlin joined in the laughs, who said it was all about “great company, great food and the holiday vibe.”
They made portions of traditional holiday dishes, with mashed potatoes, corn, cranberries and turkey galore.