Christmas in the Rockies is a family tradition for the Jim and Joyce Cillessen family; this year will mark the ninth Christmas they’ve owned the home.
“We’ve had some pretty fancy Christmases there,” Joyce says. Some years, they go all out with holiday décor while other years, they keep it low-key.
“We change it up; sometimes we do a lot and sometimes we just do a tree.”
A closet upstairs serves as storage for the holiday décor, and they simply pull out what they want.
“It’s packed tight,” Joyce says, adding this year will be one of the simpler years décor wise as they won’t be at the house for Christmas Day.
This year, the family — the couple’s two children and spouses and eight grandchildren — will arrive after St. Nick but will have plenty of time to enjoy skiing in nearby Crested Butte.
“The grandkids all love going over there. They’re always excited about going and there’s eight of them, ages 5 to 17, whether it’s summer or winter,” Joyce says of the family home.
The family gathers there regularly during summer vacation, the holidays and spring break. Friends join them as well for time well-spent making memories. “Garlic Mike” (Mike Busse), a well-known local restauranteur also joins them for an evening of Italian cooking each year.
Joyce’s favorite part?
“Oh, my goodness … all of the decorations and the snow. And just family,” she says.
The sprawling retreat, known as The Schofield, was named as such due to sentiment — and coincidence. Joyce tells of going up to a beautiful spot in the mountains, Schofield Pass, for Jim’s fortieth birthday. Joyce and the kids had a birthday party for him up on top of the pass — a fond memory of a special place.
Then, when they began planning for their vacation home, they started with stock plans from the design firm.
“The model we picked was called the Schofield. Of course, we made changes to the plans,” Joyce says, explaining they’d wanted a more open kitchen and several other modifications to the stock plan. They decided their vacation place would be called The Schofield.
One of Joyce’s first memories in the house was in April 2010, shortly after they moved in.
“We had a house full of people, and the well went dry,” she recalls. They had to haul in water for drinking and household operations. The problem was remedied soon after with a new well, drilled 920 feet to what Joyce says is wonderful water.
When the house isn’t full of family or guests, the couple heads there for about a week each month on average. It’s a sanctuary of sorts, especially for Jim who aims to get there at least once a month.
Citing the house’s tight building envelope due to SIPs construction, Joyce notes how little dust there is inside even when they’ve been gone for a few weeks.
The home has served the family well energy-wise as well, particularly during the colder winter months and makes for a cozy Christmas.
“The propane people — they can’t believe how little of an amount of propane we use. It’s very efficient. And Ferrellgas has told us that more than once. The efficiency of the heat is really good. And you don’t have any drafty spots,” she says.
Though they’ve been in the home for nearly a decade, the Cillessen’s are still adding to the landscaping and planning some new water features in keeping with The Schofield’s beautiful views and charm.
Photos depict a Christmas past when décor was abundant, accentuating the interior’s old-world charm. While the decorations may be less of a focus this year, the memories made will undoubtedly be numerous as the Cillessen’s gather to enjoy time together.