Friday, November 23, 2012

Totally Texas -- Feliz navidad, y'all

I dashed into my neighborhood grocery store yesterday morning for an overlooked Thanksgiving dinner ingredient and found the store already playing Christmas carols. Thanksgiving’s over -- long live Christmas! And Chanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and New Year’s. . . With too many holiday events to blog about separately, I’m giving a totally biased list of some of mine and my family’s favorites, especially the free ones!

During the darkest days of the year, lights suddenly blossom. Satisfy your craving for brightness with these suggestions:

Illumination Celebration at Galleria Dallas, 13350 Dallas Parkway, #3880, Dallas. Today, November 23, through December 24, starting at noon. Lighting of indoor tree choreographed to music. Free. See also “The weather inside’s delight,” November 25, 2011 at this site. For additional Galleria events, see

Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum, 8525 Garland Road, Dallas. Glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly remain at the Dallas Arboretum through December 31, with lighted nighttime viewings several nights each week. (Evenings through the end of November, and several evenings in December are already booked up.) For additional information, see “Arboretum’s Chihuly nights,” October 12, 2012, at this site. For ticket information and prices, see

Lantern Light: Roaring through the Holidays, Saturday, December 1, at the Heritage Farmstead Museum, 1900 W. 15th St., Plano, Texas 75075. From 4 - 9 p.m. Illuminated tours of the historic buildings, with storytelling, visits with Santa, and more. For ticket information and prices, see

Chanukkah Menorah Lighting at Galleria Dallas. Saturday, December 8, through December 15, 5 p.m. daily. Of course, it’s in Texas, so it’s a giant 15-foot menorah! On Level 1, near the Guest Reception Center. Free. See

Candlelight at Dallas Heritage Village, 1515 S. Harwood St., Dallas, December 8 -9, 3-9 p.m. Carriage rides along candlelit paths, historic buildings and local entertainers. For ticket information, parking, and list of events included, see

Even in Texas, small can be beautiful. Some of my family’s favorite small-scale holiday things include:

The Trains at NorthPark, 8687 N. Central Expressway, Dallas, currently through January 6, 2013. Multiple miniature trains travel across small-scale landmarks, including Dallas’ new Margaret hunt Hill Bridge, the State Fair of Texas, and the Cotton Bowl. Proceeds benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. For times and tickets, see For additional holiday events at NorthPark, see

Joel’s Christmas Train, 156 Hidden Circle, Richardson, Texas. Richardson retiree Joel Occhiuzzo has dedicated years to making his holiday express riding train in the Duck Creek neighborhood bigger and better. The train in his backyard, running now through January 1, 6 - 10 p.m., is big enough to ride on. Free, but he appreciates donations. For additional information, see “Can you hear the train coming?” December 26, 2011, at this site, and

Richardson Santa’s Village, in front of Richardson City Hall, 411 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson, 75080. The village of child-size buildings opens Saturday, December 1, from 6-9 p.m. Free. For additional information, see “Santa comes on a fire engine,” December 12, 2011, at this site, and

And then there are events that defy classification, such as A Tuba Christmas at Dallas’ Thanks-Giving Square, 1627 Pacific Avenue at Ervay and Bryan. December 24, at noon. For nearly forty years, players of tubas, sousaphones, euphoniums and baritone horns from across the country have gathered to play carols, with instruments and in audience sing alongs. Free. See

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