Thrills for the week

December 22
Two tons of fun: Music abounds at Christmastime--bells ring, choirs work overtime, brass bands tootle carols around every corner. But we can't think of any holiday event that's more unlikely--or totally likable--than the Tuba Christmas Concert, a 22-year-old heavy music tradition most recently hosted by Larimer Square. A 200-plus tuba ensemble, made up of players of all ages and abilities, will perform unbelievably sprightly variations on the usual Christmas tunes today at 1, smack in the middle of the square. Interested players can register and rehearse this morning at the Auraria campus; call 556-8123 before December 20 for details. Or call 607-1276 for general information.

Beyond the Pyle: Git along, little dogies--the campfire's lit for Chuck Pyle's Acoustic and Western Christmas, a down-homey kind of holiday concert that the whole durn family can enjoy. Pyle, a local songwriter, guitarist and rustic humorist, has enlisted the help of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen and singing, yodeling and rope-twirling Western duo Liz Masterson and Sean Blackburn, who'll join him for a hootenanny tonight to raise a few bucks for Boulder Valley Habitat for Humanity. Pyle and friends perform at 7:30 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $12 in advance ($15 day of show), call 258-7459.

Easy does it: Your stress-o-meter keeps urging you to stop and smell the roses--but when was the last time you saw a rose garden in bloom? The Tattered Cover LoDo, a business well-versed in the holiday jitters, will host five-minute Holiday Stress Relief treatments provided by experts from Spa Universaire today beginning at 11 a.m. The T.C. is located at 1628 16th St.; call 436-1070.

Who else is doing its best to serve you in your time of need? The United States Postal Service, that's who. After the spa folks loosen you up, you can hop across the street to the Terminal Annex Station, which is selflessly open from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily, including Christmas Day. Even if LoDo is off your beaten track, four additional post offices--Cherry Creek, at 245 Columbine St.; Lakewood, at 10799 W. Alameda Ave.; Northglenn, at 11877 N. Washington St.; and Wellshire, at 2080 S. Holly St.--will leave their doors open today from 9 to 5, welcoming the last-minute rush of guilty procrastinators. And for those of you who absolutely cannot seem to get that package wrapped until it's basically too late, there's still somewhere to go: the General Mail Facility Station, at 7500 E. 53rd Pl., which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For further information call the Postal Service's holiday hotline, 1-800-880-8783.

December 23
Last chance: Everyone runs out of gift ideas, usually on this day--the eve of the Eve. Here's one last place to look: Tucked away at the Museum of Outdoor Arts, 7600 E. Orchard Rd., Englewood, is the annual Holiday Artist and Faculty Show and Sale, a splashy compendium of locally created affordables ranging from paintings to wearable art. Also on display indoors at the outdoor museum, open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., is Kristine Smock's multimedia show, Jungle Bells. Those willing to brave the elements can not only explore the al fresco portion of the museum's spread-out exhibits, but they're also welcome to stay after dark to marvel at the JDNeafus-designed holiday lighting twinkling nightly in nearby Samson Park, through Jan. 1. For additional information call 741-3609.

December 24
Dashing through the snow: You all know how it's done--in a one-horse open sleigh, right? The Colorado Mountain Ranch, located in the hills west of Boulder, supplies the vehicle--but you're the ones who'll have to supply the required laughing all the way. The cozy lodge offers a Holiday Sleighride Dinner, which includes the chilling dash and a five-course repast, today at 12:30, with repeats taking place on December 28 and 31. Or, if you'd be happy with a simple hot-cocoa warmup, you can bundle up and slip-slide away daily, through January 1. Whether you choose to go first-class or coach, reservations are a must; call the ranch at 442-4557 for details. And don't forget your mittens.

December 25
And to all a good night: In order to ensure that nobody goes hungry on Christmas Day, the ever-generous Salvation Army will be joined by a legion of volunteer chefs and servers to dish up its annual Christmas feast of turkey and trimmings at Currigan Hall, 1324 Champa St. Less-fortunate children can sit on Santa's knee, and no young 'un will leave without a donated gift in tow. The dinner is served this afternoon from noon to 1; to volunteer time or financial support, call 861-4833.

How to end the day? Leave the crumpled Christmas wrap and leftover turkey carcass at home, then come gather round the Denver City and County Building and let bell-ringer Dana Miller ring your chimes--the Denver City Hall Chimes, that is. Miller, a local musician, performs holiday music on the chimes from 7:30 to 8:30 in the warm glow of the city's most imperious and popular light display. It's free, it's fun, and maybe there'll even be a dusting of snow. You can always hope.

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