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Ten Ways You Know It's Christmas Season in South Florida

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The weather outside definitely isn't frightful, but nonetheless, we are smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season in South Florida. How do we know it's that time of year again? The calendar. If we're being honest, it's pretty much just the calendar.

OK, there are a couple of other sure-fire signs Christmas and Hanukkah are right around the corner. They may not exactly be as traditional or awe-inspiring as the first sign of snow or a crackling fire, but just because there aren't any songs written about them doesn't mean they don't exist.

Holiday season happens in South Florida too, OK? We know because we tend to see the following signs this time of year.

1. The snowbird traffic

The roads you're so used to being able to navigate easily become a huge pain in the ass. That 25-minute drive to work? It's an hour in November and December. You know why? Of course you do — it's old people! Er, snowbirds, if you want to be all PC about it. If you were in a coma and woke up on November 25, you would know exactly what season it was just by looking at the traffic on University Drive.

2. College kids are everywhere

Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like shit-faced 20-year-olds puking up Fireball shots outside your favorite bar. This time of year, college kids all over the country are finishing up their finals and getting ready to migrate back to the motherland (Coral Springs, probably) to do little else but binge drink, smoke weed, have sex, and pretend to want to spend time with their parents. It's a nationwide tradition, but it's much more prevalent in South Florida where everyone is beautiful and not wearing winter clothes.

3. Sand snowmen

When in Rome, right? If you haven't ever built a sand snowman in South Florida, you're doing it wrong. Growing up, this was a tradition every true Floridian participated in to make up for the lack of the white stuff. Sandmen don't exactly work vertically as well as snowmen, so many of the pictures you might find in photo albums are of you and your friends lying next to a carved sandman. It's basically our generic version of the original,  but we didn't know any better growing up.

4. Christmas lights in palm trees

We take decorating palm trees for Christmas for granted. Seriously, read that back: We are decorating palm trees with Christmas lights. If that's not a blessing, I don't know what is. While other people are climbing onto slippery ladders, you're in flip-flops running circles around a perfectly accessible palm tree, just hoping you don't get a sunburn in the process.

5. Stone crabs

The height of stone crab season just so happens to coincide with the holidays, so you know the two are going to pair well in South Florida around a time of year when everyone is looking to celebrate and indulge. Stone crabs scream celebrate, but they also scream I love living really, really close to the water. Walking into a holiday party in South Florida and seeing a platter of stone crabs or shrimp is a tradition we're extremely proud of.
6. Holiday Boat Parades

Every year around this time, we start to hear about holiday light boat parades, most notably the annual Winterfest Boat Parade taking place this year on December 10 in Fort Lauderdale. There might be boat decorating competitions going on in Alabama that take place on a lake, but South Florida is the undisputed home of nautical holiday decorations. When you see advertisements for these in November, you know it's that time of year again — even if your pool is still warm enough to swim in.

7. The parking lot at Sawgrass Mills looks like people should be tailgating

Sawgrass Mills is always busy, but around this time of year it's a friggin' zoo. Just getting inside the place is like attending a Miami Dolphins game. Finding a parking spot reminds you of your college days. Walking the long halls of Sawgrass Mills makes you dizzy on a day in March, but during the holidays it's like walking in Times Square if Times Square were covered in Old Navys.

8. Santa's Enchanted Forest

Even if you live in Broward, Santa's Enchanted Forest is a holiday landmark. It's not even that you go every year; it's that you've been once or twice and you can't get that radio jingle out of your head. If you live in Coral Springs or Tamarac, a trip to Santa's feels like a trip to another state — it's soooo far. As a kid, if you somehow got to go to Santa's Enchanted Forest by yourself or with your friends, it was a whole ordeal that basically put your life at risk, but it was worth it.

9. Fake snow events are everywhere

Can you imagine how insulting this is to people in states where snow is a pain in the butt? Who does this? We do, that's who, because we are left out of all the fun of having frozen ice falling from the sky, all up in everything. If you see an advertisement for a place where your kids can play in fake snow, you know it must be the holiday season in South Florida. They don't just do that sort of nonsense in July. That would be weird. Weirder even than the idea of fake snow.

10. Fake fireplaces finally make sense

Not many homes in South Florida have a real fireplace, because why the hell would they? Many, however, do have a fireplace that at one point or another was purchased at Home Depot and brought home in the back of a Rav4. Come holiday season, these babies get fired up every time the temperature drops below 75 in South Florida. It's another way of making ourselves forget that we basically live in the middle of the ocean, and there is no change in seasons.

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