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Tips for Transplants: Ten Rules for December in Denver

December is one of those months that tends to fly by: You think you have all the time in the world, then the holidays come and go, and all of a sudden it’s January.

This year has been something of a bitch, but we have 31 more days of 2016 (ugh), and we might as well make the best of it, Denver style.

December in the Mile High City isn’t too dissimilar from December in the rest of the country, but there are a few things that both natives and newcomers could benefit from remembering during this hap-hap-happiest time of the year.

Here are the top ten tips for transplants.

10. You’re Decorating for Two
Two reasons, that is: Whatever holiday you might celebrate, and the National Western Stock Show. Back in the day, the Stock Show was more than that thing that ties up traffic on I-70 something awful for a couple of weeks in the middle of January. It was the raison d’être for what was then still largely a cowtown at the western end of the American plains, and in its honor, Denver citizens were encouraged to light up their homes in festive style — so do it up right. One strand across your gutter is fine, but go bigger. No one’s asking you to rent a cherry picker, hire a crew or put on a display that would make Zoo Lights go resentfully dark. But if you’re going to participate, jump in with both feet. Fun fact: Outdoor Christmas lights were invented in Denver.

9. There Won’t Be Enough Snow
People think that Colorado, and Denver in particular, is lousy with snow in winter. But frankly, it’s not, and definitely not in December. Sure, we’ll probably get a few quick storms that will move in and out of the Front Range and leave behind a dusting or a few inches. Yes, there has been the freak December storm that socks everyone in, and, yes, everyone wants a white Christmas. But none of those happen very often, so your dreams of a Calvin-inspired snowman emergency scene may have to wait until 2017.

8. The Parade of Lights Is Always the Same
Sure, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade boasts the same character balloons every year, and (spoiler alert!) Santa always brings up the rear. (That’s what Mrs. Claus said! Ba-dum-dum.) But much of it is different from year to year, which is why we watch the parade year after year — that, and the fact that it’s on virtually every channel Thanksgiving morning. Anyway, Denverites know that the Parade of Lights is great the first time — and then you’ve pretty much seen all it has to offer. That’s no reason not to see it again, but taking a year or two off so you can comfortably forget the experience might help you enjoy it more the next time.

7. December Has The Best 5Ks
Most people know the Colder Boulder (December 3), but the best run in December is clearly the Ugly Sweater Run, which supports the burgeoning ugly-sweater industry while at the same time serving as an excuse for drinking beer and jingling more than those around you would normally support. Besides, this is the season for eating way too damn much, so you might as well take the opportunity to get off the couch, bundle up and work off some of that eggnog.


6. Check Out the Sie Film Center for Christmas Flicks
In past years, fans have been able to semi-enjoy the complete jaw-dropping amazing awfulness that is the Star Wars Holiday Special. They’re giving the Wookiee Life-Day celebration a rest this year (just another way 2016 has utterly sucked), but the Sie is still offering a host of holiday films that go from the traditional (It’s a Wonderful Life on December 11) to the rad (Gremlins on December 16) to the completely out there (Krampus on December 2). Bonus: If you get a large popcorn, you can string what you don’t eat with some cranberries when you get home and decorate like you’re in a Dickens novel.

Keep reading for five more tips.
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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