The contrast of Christmas in the city highlights meaning
Last Wednesday, I was leaving the Capitol building to walk to the bus stop at 16th Street and Broadway. It had been raining and I wondered if it was snowing in the High Country.It takes me about 90 minutes to drive from my office to my house but in bad weather it seems like it takes an eternity.When I began to cross Colfax Avenue, I noticed that traffic had stopped because of a pile of dirty clothing in the middle of the street.The closer I got, the more I realized that the pile of clothing was actually a man. A street person. A beggar who had fallen in the middle of the street. Several people were giving him aid and had already called for help.All of a sudden I was back in New York City. My past had caught up with me. It was “Groundhog Day,” the movie, all over again. Earlier that day, I was walking the four blocks from my hotel to the Capitol when a beggar stopped me. This guy deserved an Academy Award. His story was that he was broke and needed $1.25 for bus fare to get to his job.I almost gave him some money for his creativity but decided against it. I have had too many classes on enabling people to continue their bad behavior. He probably needed to find a real job and use his money to buy bus fare instead of the alcohol that he reeked of that morning.Christmas in the city is sometimes the best part of Christmas. I think it is the concentration of people, the decorations and the lights.The City and County Building is beautiful, regardless of what you think of the annual controversy over the religious themes. The lights seem to illuminate the entire world and always make me feel good.No beggars on that side of the Civic Center.The 16th Street Mall reminds me of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan with all the people shopping and the store windows decorated with holiday themes.The beggars are probably there but they blend in with the rest of the crowd.In the early 1970s I lived in Brooks Towers. At that time, all of LoDo was very much like the Bowery section of New York with lots of warehouses and many bums sleeping in doorways. Now that entire area has some of the hottest property in Denver with very expensive lofts surrounded by great shopping and restaurants are all over the place.The Pepsi Center and Coors Field are like bookends for the upscale activity in the city.All the beggars now sleep on East Colfax.I was invited to a holiday reception on the top floor of the Daniels and Fisher Tower at 16th and Arapahoe. I didn’t even know there was anything in that building. All I remember is that it was kept as a landmark after the old Daniels and Fisher Department store was torn down 30 years ago. Talk about a breathtaking view of Christmas in the city. The elevator takes you to the 17th floor of the tower and then you can walk up several more flights of stairs to an observation deck. Takes your breath away.I could not see the beggars from up there.The new legislators were invited to the Governor’s Mansion for his holiday reception last week, too. The members of the cabinet were there, along with the leaders of both parties.I had been there many times when Gov. Roy Romer was in office but this was the first time in six years under the Owens administration. The house looked like the set from a Donna Reed movie from the 1940s.It was very beautiful and wonderfully full of Christmas decorations.The beggars from Colfax Avenue were not invited.The stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots becomes even greater this time of the year.I wonder if the street beggar who fell in the middle of Colfax Avenue could even imagine the view of Christmas from the top of the Daniels and Fisher Tower or see the people enjoying the holiday at the Governor’s Mansion.Christmas takes on an entirely different meaning when you can see the contrasts that live side by side in our state capitol. Strangely, it highlights the true meaning of Christmas. Giving and sharing. Love and forgiveness.State Rep. Gary Lindstrom of Lakeview Meadows serves House District 56 including Summit, Lake and Eagle counties.
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