Five reasons why Christmas totally rules

OMFG yes! Merry Christmas!
Smiles for the frowners / Salutes to the uppers / Boosts for the downers / May the day be the bowl of cherriest / And to all, the Merriest! -- June Christy

My Westword cohort Josiah Hesse just wrote a screed about why you should boycott Christmas -- and I couldn't disagree more. Although I can't pretend to argue the theological side or even the economic side of why Christmas is or isn't the best/worst holiday/thing America has bastardized, I felt compelled to come to the defense of Christmas.

I'm a giant child when it comes to the season, and am purely in it for the sensory experience. I'm atmosphere-oriented and Christmas is one of the few times of the year when people and places of business get a hall pass to be unabashedly kitschy and publicly weird with no fear of being called out for it. Slightly off-kilter-looking Santa figures and reindeer with anthropomorphic eyes and mouths get rolled out and perched on rooftops, and though they are not really my favorite decoration, generators running for hours just to power novelty-size inflatable versions of Snoopy in a Santa hat have become part of the cityscape that makes me love the Christmas season.

While Josiah's got plenty of good and fair reasons why he thinks this season sucks, I'm here to make a simple case: Christmas totally rules.

See also:
Five reasons why I boycott Christmas and you should, too

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Five reasons why I boycott Christmas and you should, too

Categories: Christmastime

I don't love anything/ no, not even Christmas/ especially not that -- Belle & Sebastian

It's not so much that I hate Christmas. I like what Dickens was about in A Christmas Carol, putting forth the idea that charity, celebration and sincere human connection are more important than wealth and ritual. But while we've (bizarrely) kept the aesthetics and catch-phrases from this nineteenth-century novel alive today, most of those who celebrate Christmas have ironically come to embody the Scrooge character, clinging to tradition and existential security without any thought for their neighbors (unless it's to show off the expense of their toys -- both adult and child -- over another's).

Christmas became a drag for me a long time ago, and every year I spend December 25 working at my desk in protest. I am no Scrooge, though; I am not a traditionalist and certainly am not hoarding any money away. No doubt there are plenty of people who will disagree with me on this -- but before you dismiss me as a cold-hearted grinch, reserve judgment for a few minutes while you scroll through my five reasons to boycott Christmas.

See also: Your vote doesn't matter: Why there are better things to do on election day

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Gifts that give back: Seven places to find thoughtful gifts for the holidays

Hope Tank offers gifts for the whole family, and part of the proceeds of each product goes to charity.
Buying gifts for the holidays can be daunting. You battle other shoppers for an unbeatable deal and stand in mile-long lines -- and sometimes the gift receiver doesn't like the present anyway. For those who would prefer to buy something thoughtful that gives back to the community, or make a handmade present that really means something, here is a list of seven options for finding gifts that give back.

See also: Black Friday 101: How to survive the biggest shopping day of the year

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Matt Zambrano on playing David Sedaris in The SantaLand Diaries

Matt Zambrano as Crumpet, with Mayor Michael Hancock.
We all love Christmas. And we all hate Christmas. For the side of us that bitterly embraces the latter, David Sedaris's The SantaLand Diaries essay is the ideal method for steeping in your own Scroogeness. Chronicling the true story of Sedaris's move to New York, where he becomes depressed and sadistic while working at Macy's SantaLand during the Christmas season, this tale of working-class cynicism has struck a chord with beleaguered holiday shoppers, who have insisted on hearing it year after year on NPR for the last two decades.

Naturally, the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company wanted to bring this experience of merriment gone wrong to the stage, casting local favorite Matt Zambrano as not only Crumpet the elf (Sedaris), but in every role in the production. We caught up with Zambrano as he prepares for the role of Santa's angriest elf to discuss the Sedaris legacy, how the holidays have gotten worse since the SantaLand premiere, and why you don't have to hate Christmas to love this play.

See also: David Sedaris talks colonoscopies, North Korea and bone marrow at the Paramount

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Everything is Terrible's Commodore Gilgamesh on the group's psychedelic Christmas explosion

The work of Everything is Terrible! is hard to describe.The easy way out is to note that it's video collage, but that doesn't begin to convey what this crew does with video. The videos themselves are dense, context-busting pastiches of pop culture and pure insanity. But as if that weren't enough, their creators add live, interactive elements to the mix to further delight and disorient the audience. On Sunday, the folks behind EIT! will bring their latest show, the Holiday Special 2012 Cataclysmic Transformation, to the Sie FilmCenter. Their biggest, most excessive project yet offers up the ghost of Christmas Past via untold hours of video schmaltz condensed into one continuous psychic onslaught of found footage, surrounded by an elaborate stage show full of puppets, fake snow, candy and glitter that will transform the Sie FilmCenter into the winter wonderland from your wildest dreams -- or your darkest nightmares.

We recently spoke with EIT's Commodore Gilgamesh about the show, the dark side of Christmas and the psychedelic effects of too much pop culture.

See also:
- Doggiewoggiez! Poochiewoochiez!: Top ten dog-themed Everything is Terrible videos
- The Wonderful World of Terrible
- Found Footage Festival's Nick Prueher on how-to-masturbate videos and the death of VHS

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Twenty horrific holiday sweaters to set the mood for the Ugly Sweater Run

Categories: Christmastime

Chris Pichado/Pichado Photography

This Saturday, thousands of people will don their most garish Christmas sweater, head to City Park and participate in the first Denver Ugly Sweater Run. In honor of this auspicious display of festive garb and unfettered tackiness, and to possibly inspire you to join the ugly-ass fun, we searched high and low for the most horrific holiday garb we could find (and legally post, thanks to Creative Commons licensing). Settle in, grab some eggnog, and enjoy the twenty ugliest holiday sweaters the world Flickr has ever seen (so far).

See also:
- Event: Ugly Sweater Run
- Merry Christmas. Now here are some crappy sweaters.
- Slideshow: 50 best costumes of the Santa pub crawl

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Jingle bells and pizza tonight in Sunnyside

The gods couldn't quite conjure up any snow to dash through, but tonight in Sunnyside, you can still go on a horse-drawn ride, bells a'jingling, and laughing all the way. Ernie's Bar & Pizza will host the fourth annual Sunnyside Sleigh Ride from 5 to 8 p.m., inviting neighborhood families and other adventurous souls out for an evening of old-fashioned fun.

See also:
- Light up the night in 2012 with the Denver area's best holiday displays
- Skate into the holiday season at the Rink at Belmar
- Blossoms of Light

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2012 Capitol Christmas Tree Campaign kicks off tonight

Architect of the Capitol
2011 Capitol Christmas Tree

Every year the "people's tree" takes center stage at the various Christmas festivities in Washington, D.C., and this year that tree will be a Colorado native from the White River National Forest. Colorado was selected out of 155 national forests. A celebration starts tonight in Lakewood, with help from Rolling Stone's keyboardist and award-winning tree farmer, Chuck Leavell.

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Let Robert Gift ring your chimes at the Denver City and County Building
Denver Public Library
It's been carilloneur Robert Gift's thankless task each Christmas for the last thirty years or so to whip the City and County Building's recalcitrant Robert Speer Memorial Chime into shape: Comprised of ten mannerless and hopelessly untuned bronze bells, the instrument -- if you can call it that -- has, let us say, some quirks. Yet Gift will do his damnedest to sculpt holiday tunes on request for a few brisk hours in the belfry both tomorrow night and on Christmas Eve.

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LoDo Aglow demonstrates the light stuff

Categories: Christmastime

The windows of the Oxford Hotel, which won first place.
Entries in the third annual LoDo Aglow contest -- for which 22 businesses in lower downtown decorated their windows -- ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.

The really ridiculous. Who knew that one of Santa's elves was a pole dancer? But that was just one of the revelations in the over-the-top, silver-and-blue display at the Oxford Hotel, which took first prize.

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