Have you never considered why we cram all this family time, all these big coming-together events, into the coldest part of the year? Why not just assemble the family when the spring blooms are out? It would certainly make the airports pleasanter. For tradition? Naw, we do it because it's cold, because our ancestors needed to huddle for warmth or, should cousin Felix keel over, to have a shot at that sweeeeet squirrel hat. So the holidays are really all about having familiar flesh rubbing together to keep things toasty. And to keep the wolves away. Here are some other opportunities for the insulation of human bodies. Brandon Reynolds
Grand Illumination. Another great tradition updated, the modern-day lighting of the winter bonfire down in the James Center. Again, for the wolves. We're not dancing around the flames, though. We're checking out Santa and the Snow Queen and Tuba Christmas and Susan Greenbaum and carriage rides and events at the Fountain Bookstore (788-1594) and White Canvas Gallery (782-1776). Dec. 1 at 5:55 p.m. 788-6466.
Art Karma. Art 180's annual party for silently bidding on art items and trips to other villages, for listening to the minstrels of WRIR and fortifying the system with wines and foods from 20 local restaurateurs and caterers, all to help the little humans in the community thrive. Nov. 30 at Plant Zero, 7-10 p.m. $5. 233-4180.
Santa Paws. Speaking of wolves. As though Santas don't have enough stress with the questionable bladders of kids, now they've got to deal with dogs and cats, too. "What do you want in your stocking, Fido?" "Uh, my testicles." Dec. 3 and 10, 8-10 p.m. at Regency Square. 521-1319.
Ukrop's Richmond Christmas Parade. 250,000 attendees, every cartoon character in the land, and a million floats passing in front of the DMV's watchful eyes, just waiting for that sleigh to have a traffic violation. Dec. 2, 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. 559-6113.
Roller Derby. Hey, only in the interests of a bunch of bodies struggling to keep warm, or at least on all eight wheels. The River City Rollergirls christen the city with combat between very fast ladies wearing very tight clothes. It's the Disco Shockers vs. the Abominable Snow Women, so there's a holiday link in there somewhere. Dec. 3 at Skateland at 7 p.m. $10-$12. 283-2337. S