Tips for Transplants: Rules for January in Denver

Denver in January: magical, sure, but this is a little ridiculous.
Denver in January: magical, sure, but this is a little ridiculous. Rob! at Flickr

Well, 2016 sure was a dumpster fire, wasn’t it? (And not just because that was the year that we began to lose the dumpsters.) Between the depressing and divisive election, the unrelenting celebrity deaths, and the personal crap we all deal with anyway, there’s one more reason that people stayed up late on New Year’s Eve: to watch 2016 perish.

So in the interest of ringing in 2017 well, let’s review the ten rules for the month of January for new transplants to Denver. Because living well is the best revenge we can have on 2016.

click to enlarge Nice job, Mr. Griswold. - AMY ALETHEIA CAHILL AT FLICKR
Nice job, Mr. Griswold.
Amy Aletheia Cahill at Flickr
10. Keep your lights up until the end of the Stock Show.
Because it sounds like one of those old high-school-freshman tricks, like selling a senior pass for a non-existent school elevator, some people don’t even believe this rule. But it’s true: The city has a tradition of keeping its holiday lights up well into January, and not because we’re too lazy to take them down. Rather, it was a way in the old days that the residents could attract and reward out-of-town visitors to the venerable National Western Stock Show, and its still a tradition. Take your tree down, get the house back to the semblance of normalcy to which it aspires for eleven months out of the year — but keep the twinkle lights shining.

9. The city will pick up your Christmas tree.
Not only will it pick it up for you, but it will recycle it into mulch that later ('round about May) you can pick up and use in your gardens, as long as you don’t mind the occasional stray tinsel. Pick-up days are specific — this year, it's January 7 and 14 — and it’s a great way to get rid of your dried out old Christmas decoration without having to chop it up and hide it in your garbage can over the course of several weeks.

8. Remember, every NFL team must eventually rebuild.
Okay, okay, so we didn’t make the playoffs. So we didn’t have the same strength that in days of old (like last January) moved heaven and earth. But what we are in Denver — or should be, anyway — is loyal to the orange and blue. Yes, it was a tough season (and a punishingly strong AFC West, if you don’t count the floundering crybaby Chargers), but Elway will make some changes (including a new coach), work the draft and give it another go come fall.

click to enlarge The Pepsi Center invites you to remember that basketball and hockey exist. - DAVID HERRERA AT FLICKR
The Pepsi Center invites you to remember that basketball and hockey exist.
David Herrera at Flickr
7. Oh, and remember basketball and hockey.
Not making the playoffs might mean no football in January (after New Year’s Day, anyway), but we do still have other pro sports in the first month of the year: The Nuggets and the Avalanche are a great reason to yell at your TV (or, hell, get loud at the Pepsi Center) in the snowy gray chill of January.

6. When legends die, we should honor them.
Denver avoided much in the way of local celebrity losses in 2016, but the national and worldwide tragedies in music and entertainment were enough to keep most of us reeling anyway. We’d try to list them, but there are too damn many people we’re going to miss as we proceed into 2017, and we don’t want to leave anyone out. But, seriously: January is when all this desperately needs to turn the corner. On the bright side, let’s take a note from Denver’s response to the passing of Prince, one of the greatest artists in modern music, back on April 21. Film on the Rocks added a special showing of Purple Rain, complete with a spine-tingling musical show afterward. When it’s our time, may we all go out with that much gratitude and that much love.

Keep reading for more of our January tips for transplants.

click to enlarge Beautiful inside and out. - LUCIA AT FLICKR
Beautiful inside and out.
Lucia at Flickr
5. Take advantage of free days at local institutions, courtesy SCFD.
The Science and Cultural Facilities District is funded in part by us, the taxpayers, and we recently approved an extension of that financial support with over 62 percent approval in the 2016 elections. That’s remarkable, considering how anti-tax this last electorate really was, and how in any given year you can depend on some lunatic fringe of voters who will somehow find a reason to oppose even the most slam-dunkiest of issues. Part of our continued support of the SCFD (but only a part — the benefits are many) are the free days at our local institutions: the Denver Art Museum on January 7, the Denver Zoo on January 20 and 21, and the Museum of Nature & Science on January 22, to name only a few.

click to enlarge Not taking away blankets seems like a good first step. - PAUL SABLEMAN AT FLICKR
Not taking away blankets seems like a good first step.
Paul Sableman at Flickr
4. Keep giving.
Shelters, food banks and soup kitchens see an influx of goodwill toward men (and women and children) during the holidays. But the support drops off precipitously over January. So don’t stop giving. Denver has enough problems taking care of our city’s homeless and needy. Be part of the solution.

3. If you don't yet know how to drive on ice, learn how.
January isn’t Denver’s snowiest month — on average, that honor goes to April, with March placing and December, January, and February tying for show. But that doesn’t mean the roads won’t be treacherous when it does come down in January, and unlike those wet, heavy snows that will probably come in the spring, what falls this month is more likely to stick around for a while. That means icy roadways, and if you learned to drive in a warmer clime, you’re going to need to figure out how to drive in wintertime — you know, in a managed skid like the rest of us. Otherwise, you’re just slowing traffic down, and to be frank, you deserve every finger you get.

click to enlarge No, your humidifier doesn't need to be in the shape of an animal. Humidifier shape will do fine. - HILLARY AT FLICKR
No, your humidifier doesn't need to be in the shape of an animal. Humidifier shape will do fine.
Hillary at Flickr
2. Humidify, humidify, humidify.
The winters in Denver are crazy dry — we’re in a high desert, after all. If you don’t have a humidifier built into your furnace (only newer builds will, with exceptions), then portable humidifiers will have to suffice. Bonus: Higher humidity means fewer allergies, reduced snoring, and fewer winter colds. Think of all you’ll save on Kleenex and nasal strips alone.

click to enlarge Don't be that guy. - JESSE HULL AT FLICKR
Don't be that guy.
Jesse Hull at Flickr
1. Stay warm.
Seriously. The flip side of Denver’s sometimes surprising weather is that it can go from shorts weather to frostbite in a matter of hours. Be prepared for anything — and welcome to winter at a mile high!

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen