Christmas in Killington

Christmas eve, the bags were packed. Presents were all wrapped and tucked in a bag under the tree ready to depart in the morning for a Christmas vacation that was already shaping up to be one of the most memorable vacations in a very long time. Come Christmas morning, my mother and I embarked on our journey north to Killington Resort in nearby Killington, VT.

We planned a Christmas unlike any other. Earlier on Christmas eve, I called a quaint little place just down the road from the resort called the Killington-Pico Motor Inn. It was nothing fancy, rather a charming little place to stay for the evening that was without a doubt Killington’s best kept secret. When we arrived, we were welcomed by a hospitable couple that owned the inn. The most charming part of the inn was the lodge, a rather warm wooden room that was lit up with the aroma of a crackling fireplace and a fresh cut Christmas tree. It was in this room where we decided to have our Christmas as we exchanged gifts watching the gentle falling snow outside adding up to what was already on the ground.

As we exchanged gifts, we lit the lodge up with laughter and joy, but one gift in particular brought a different kind of joy. I take a variety of pictures, and this Christmas I decided to make a collage of pictures of my mother and I and the places we visited. It brought tears to my mothers eyes. She was left speechless. I knew this would be the perfect Christmas gift, better than any store bought gift by far. It was a gift directly from the heart.

As we sat by the fire continuing to watch the snow fall and share stories of Christmas past, we noticed it was time for dinner, but where to go? Not much would be open noting it was Christmas night. We decided to head over to downtown Killington, where plenty of places remained open as the resort was catering to all of the Christmas guests like ourselves.

We stopped in at one of our favorite restaurants called The Grist Mill. A delightful, yet, idyllic place that was warm on the inside as the outside was surrounded by snow. We chose a table near the fireplace where we instantly escaped the bitter cold from the outdoors. We’ve been here many times, but for some reason this time just felt different. We were together. Mother and son, enjoying a delightful Christmas dinner while enjoying a night in snow covered mountains. We didn’t need the fireplace, our hears were already warmed.

After dinner, we headed back to the inn where we decided to call it an early night falling asleep to Christmas movies and the sounds of snow guns from the resort.

Once morning came around, I noticed that I slept like a rock! One of the best sleeps I’ve had in many weeks. We quickly rose, got ready, and headed over to the lodge to enjoy a continental breakfast as we sat by a window watching even more snow fall on the summit of Killington. We couldn’t ask for a better place to enjoy breakfast.

After breakfast, we headed back to the room to pack up so we can head over to Killington bright and early to get a jump start on the crowds of skiers who would soon follow our lead. My mother, who is not able to ski, laid low and relaxed in the lodge where she had her book and iPhone to keep her company while I was out on the slopes. Killington has, and always will be, home to me. The mountain is like family. Killington is often referred to ad the Aspen of the east, and it’s no surprise as to why. With over 140 trails and six mountains to ride, you can easily spend your whole day there and still have more trails leftover to discover. The views from all angles are impressive as you enjoy 360 degree views of the surrounding Green Mountains.

As the sun began to set, and the slopes became icy, it was time for us to depart and make our journey south back to Connecticut, but before we left Vermont we decided to make one last stop at The Vermont Country Store, just off exit 6 of interstate 91. It’s a remarkable little store filled with treasures of yesteryear where you can find old time products such as classic Coke bottles and old fashioned candies and toys. It’s a stop no one should ever pass up.

We knew this Christmas would be memorable, but I don’t believe we knew just how memorable it would become. It was, without a doubt, the very best Christmas vacation we had ever experienced. There’s just no words left to describe it. It was filled with peace and joy, but most of all, it was filled with love.

I hope you and your family have also enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and continue to enjoy this marvelous holiday season!

-Mike Valletta

Merry Christmas to All!

It really is the most wonderful time of year, isn’t it? Forget all the horns honking and that guy standing in line next to you wanting to beat you up for taking the last item on the shelf. Christmas is so much more than all that. Sure, it may be a stressful holiday for some, but for many it’s truly a magical season.

When we stop to reflect on all the good that the season brings, the less we’ll think of everything bad that comes with it. (Please continue ignoring that angry man behind you in line who’s practically breathing down your back!) Over the years I have learned many things about Christmas, but one of the most important things that I have learned is to give back.

Growing up an only child, I was used to seeing many gifts under the tree, and every single one of them for me! Today, I wouldn’t have it. I was given a wonderful childhood that I sometimes wish I could have back, but after years of receiving, I’ve turned the tables and it’s time to give back.

Christmas doesn’t have to be monetary, it has to be something that’s from the heart. Something that is memorable and fills ones heart up with joy and compassion. This Christmas, I’ve decided to give back to someone who has given me a great deal over the years, my own mother.

My mother hasn’t enjoyed a vacation in many years, and this year I decided to buy her a Christmas vacation in New England’s famous ski town Killington, Vermont. It was a bit of a compromise. She needed a vacation from reality, and I needed to ski. While she enjoys the array of amenities at the resort, I’ll be on the slopes. I couldn’t have come up with a better Christmas gift. It’s a great way to give back to a woman who has a heart of gold and is such a huge part of my life.

So you see, Christmas really doesn’t have to be monetary. It’s likely to be one of the most memorable Christmas’s and certainly one that we’ll be talking about for years to come. Killington has the snow, so we’ll even top things off with a white Christmas!

From my family to yours, may you all have a very Merry Christmas!

-Mike Valletta

Winter Bliss in Torrington

Sometimes, so many of us get lost in the whirlwind of everything in life and forget the world around us. Sometimes, that world, is just better when it’s left untouched by human hands.

As Henry David Thoreau once said: “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”

It doesn’t get much better than a visit to Torrington’s Burr Pond State Park. A visit today shows a slight ice formation on top, not yet ready for ice skating though!

Daytrip: Following the Snow to Okemo Mountain Resort

It’s been a dry December for many of us here in Connecticut in terms of snow. Last week, we were surprised when a few modest inches were at our doorsteps, only to disappear a few days later. As a skier, the words coming out of my mouth aren’t pretty and come with a vocabulary including words starting with the letter F, and it’s not a pleasant word!

What kind of winter is this? Last winter, we were digging ourselves out of igloos and investing in things we’ve never heard of like roof rakes. (Roof rakes? Have you heard of them before last year?) Yes, so far, this winter is radically different for us but luckily for us skiers, we know where to go when there’s a lack of snow.

Vermont. A rather quiet state to the north that is home to more cows and moose than people. Seriously, they should be counted in the census. This time of year, however, all those cows and moose lay low as skiers from all across the globe venture to the Green Mountains and make an impact on weekend populations. By Monday, I think the population decreases to one thousand for the entire state. Don’t quote me.

Last weekend, I made my way up to Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow. It was the moment I was waiting for. It was the first run of the season for me. With only 4 runs open, it was a modest beginning, but one I had to take advantage of before my adrenaline took advantage of me. As I peered my eyes to the summit, I could see small little dots coming down. (Those would be people by the way!) There I was standing front and center in front of Vermont’s primer place for skiing and riding. Talk about a dream come true. It was as if I was a kid again!

It was time to stop looking. It was time to get my ski legs ready and make a few twists and turns on fresh made powder thanks to the resorts excellent snow making staff who work day and night just to get it all right and make everyones dreams come alive.

Once I reached the top of the mountain, it was all downhill, and in a good way! With each twist and turn, a smile radiated from my face. Call me crazy, but I was having the time of my life as I took in the views of the surrounding Green Mountains. Nothing in the world could have taken away my happiness, not even the sudden thought that by coming to the mountain to ski, I suddenly broke the bank forgetting about a car payment that came out! Oops.

While the thought crossed my mind briefly, what mattered was I had the time of my life. We live once. Living out my life to the fullest continues to be one of the most important things on my agenda. If you’re not out enjoying yourself, you’re not out enjoying your life, right?

So, as we continue to have a snow deficit here in Connecticut, there’s one place that will always have plenty of people snow dancing and making snow. Vermont. A skiers paradise and a city slickers worst nightmare. Thank god I’m not a city slicker.

For more information, visit:

Eggnog Like it Used to Taste

Those are the exact words as it’s read on the bottle of eggnog I just picked up from Arethusa Farm Dairy in Bantam. It’s not your everyday eggnog. Forget everything that you have ever tasted before and take a taste of times forgotten. Consider it a trip back to yesteryear, a bit of Christmas past if you will. Packed with rich ingredients of milk, cream, whole eggs, pure vanilla cinnamon, and nutmeg, this eggnog has a memorable taste that you’ll never forget and will leave you asking for more.

I got a tip from my good friend Daniella Forte from The Litchfield County Times that it was the best eggnog she had ever tasted so naturally that was my cue to taste it for myself. I’m like a guinea pig when it comes to anything regarding food. A mans gotta eat, right? Might as well try it all! Though I’m not exactly sure where it ends up. That’s another story.

Today, I walked into the farm dairy located on Route 202 in Bantam and demanded I try a sample of this so called best eggnog. Happily, they offered a sample. I wasn’t at all shy. As soon as they handed it to me, down it went! Gone in seconds. I couldn’t help but look around for just another sampling. The rich, creamy eggnog tasted just like it was made from scratch without any extra ingredients. I couldn’t believe it. I just had to have a bottle of this for myself, so of course, that’s exactly what I did. I purchased their collectors bottle right from the fridge. Even the bottle brings back memories of a Christmas past! Remember the days the milkman came to your door to deliver glass bottles of milk? That’s exactly what Arethusa has brought back to life!

The good old days. A simpler time now steeped back in history but brought to life by a local farm dairy. Thanks to Arethusa, I suddenly found my Christmas spirit.

To learn more about Arethusa, visit:

Ushering in the Joy of Christmas with Christmas Village

My Christmas memories go back many years here in Torrington, and many of those memories go back to standing in line at Christmas Village. I’ll never forget it. Those cold nights spent in hour long lines by a make shift fire to keep folks warm as we waited patiently to see Santa Clause and all of his little helpers. I can recall many times that I begged my parents to take me there. It’s one of those joyous childhood memories you’ll just never forget.

The hot chocolate. The reindeers. The elves. Christmas Village is what makes Torrington the ultimate Christmas town in Connecticut. No where else could you find such a magical place filed with holiday cheer, and today that holiday cheer was alive and well as folks from all over came to downtown Torrington to usher in the opening of Christmas Village. I felt like a kid again as I stood along main street watching the parade make their way through Main Street and onwards to Christmas Village where all the children in town seemed to gather around just for a visit with the big old jolly man himself.

No Christmas is complete without a visit to Torrington’s Christmas Village. It’s like Disney. It’s the place where dreams are made of. It’s the magical escape from reality we all need to relive those childhood memories of a Christmas past.

For more information, visit:

Joe Kopler Keeps Childhood Imaginations Alive

The wind whips a harmony of music as it floats through the evening skies. A dark escapade of howls come crawling out of the woods as it whips on down the mountain peaks and then back up the mountain peaks. A gentle but steady snow falls and blankets the hilltown and transforms it into a quiet winter wonderland.

As I sit here curled up on my couch visualizing everything that is happening in this sleepy town during this cold winters night, I sit here pondering about the magic of it all. When the sun comes up and shines brightly over the hills and mountains it shines an array of gold from all the glistening snow that this night has brought.

Curled up with a hot chocolate in my hand watching the marshmallows start to melt as if it were snow flakes melting into a warm chocolate river, the magic of it all sends chills through my body as I enjoy the excitement that only a night like this can bring.

Yes, on a cold winters night, I sit listening to a harmony like no other. The mountains are alive in all their great glory….

Imagination. It’s what you get from looking at one simple picture. Art can inspire you in more ways than you ever thought possible. In Torrington, there lies a man who could trigger every sense in the human body and spark creativity out of life’s simplest things. Our good friend Joe Kopler is the Norman Rockwell of Litchfield County. He has helped to inspire me and keep my imagination going as if I was reliving childhood all over again. There’s not many people that can do that, but when Joe hands you a painting like the one below, in a world so large, anything is possible.

Happy Birthday, Joe!

For more information about Joe Kopler, check out his website: