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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

The Holidays in Denver

Grandma's hand-written caramel roll recipe

Grandma’s hand-written caramel roll recipe

Holidays for me as a child in Minnesota were spent the same way each year, albeit quite deliciously. Thanksgiving turkey. A half pork and half beef Christmas roast tied together. Grandma’s caramel rolls.


I’d wait anxiously for my grandparents to drive down to the Twin Cities each winter. They’d come both for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was always a highlight of my holidays.

I remember the small sledding hill up the road from me at the Shakopee Junior High School. The jumps were huge. Monstrously so. I must’ve gotten six inches of air on my plastic sled. It was freakin’ awesome. Or so I thought. Now I’d likely think the effort of trudging back up that small hill wouldn’t be worth the ride down.

I also recall the Holidazzle Parade in downtown Minneapolis. Not well. We only went once, if memory serves. A small deviation from our holiday norm. But I remember it. A Minnesota holiday tradition. Or so the television commercials said.

I’m making my own traditions now. Living in another state forces you to do that. Heck, growing up forces you to do that. There are no visits from the grandparents. They no longer bring handmade caramel rolls to my door. There’s no more sledding. (Well, okay, there is sledding, but it’s a pain in the butt to do with a drive up to the Rocky Mountains, battling traffic there and back. It’s kinda like walking to school in six feet of snow both ways as a child. Or so I understand from the stories my father used to tell me.)

Holidays in Denver are different. I can’t say they’re better, but they’re definitely not worse. They’re just different.

For years after moving out here, when the whole family still lived in Minnesota, I would travel home to see them, to see the grandparents again. But now grandma is gone. Both grandmas for that matter. Sigh. How I loved going to see Grandma Clara for a family reunion sort of Christmas and to eat her chocolate chip cookies. No more, though. Now only one grandpa remains, and he is in a home. Half the family has moved out of Minnesota. And so the old traditions change to become new ones.

No longer do I sit, waiting impatiently for the grandparents to travel down from their lake home. No more do I go sledding. I skip out on the downtown parades here in Denver, too, because, let’s face it, the pain-in-the-butt traffic and crowds just aren’t worth it.

I suppose that’s why I only remember us once going to the Holidazzle Parade.

The Denver City and County Building

The Denver City and County Building

No. I skip all of that now. Instead, nightly as I drive home from work I see the Denver City and County Building all lit up. I consider going to the Denver Zoo Lights, but scoff at the idea once common sense returns. The pain-in-the-butt traffic and crowds just aren’t worth it. Not more than once, that is. Yes, once is enough. And I’ve done that.

Through it all, the feasts remain. The traditional Thanksgiving meals. The great get-togethers. The caramel rolls. They’re all shared with friends, those who I call Misfits – families or singles who don’t want to cook or travel for the holiday. Well, okay, maybe not the caramel rolls. They’re not shared. It’s true. They’re all mine, stashed away for another day.

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2 Comments on “The Holidays in Denver”

  1. rayh526@msn.com November 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Pretty cool seeing Grandma Van’s handwriting.

  2. ummulbaneenmirza March 1, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    Very nice ! hmm Rocky mountains, Denver zoo lights and traditional meals

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