Beating humbuggery and the Christmas grinch

HOLIDAY SPIRIT COMES easily for some, descending merrily with the first brisk breeze. The first glimpse of Hanukkah candles. The first words of Linus’ oft-repeated reading of the nativity story: And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus.. . .

But for others, holiday cheer is about as easy to catch as the Christmas goose. Forget the sugarplums. These folks look at traffic. Price tags. Crowds. They complain of how the holiday season has become too commercial. They spread yuletide gloom.

These malcontents should be rolled in pine needles and flocked. But we’ll be satisfied if they agree to reform and admit that the smells of Christmas are already in the air. This year’s Christmas Gift Guide is dedicated to softening the hearts and re-twinkling the eyes of those who flatly-or occasionally-dread Christmas and all of its trimmings. As for those who already love the season-may some of our ideas enrich your jubilee.

We offer you a smorgasbord of every celebration, tradition and new idea we could muster. Look it over if you find yourself cringing at the sound of sleigh-bells or curling your lip when you’re asked to shell pecans.

Although we’re certain we’ve missed many local celebrations, we’ve found enough joy in these few festivities to set the grinch himself to caroling. We hope you’ll join him. Merry Christmas!


It’s impossible to properly deck your halls without carefully choosing the music that resounds therein. Mark Tindle of Sound Warehouse suggests several all-time favorites: Barbra Streisand’s A Christmas Album, Willie Nelson’s Pretty Paper, Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas, John Denver’s John Denver and the Muppets and Christmas Together, Elvis Presley’s The Wonderful World of Christmas, Luciano Pavarotti’s Oh Holy Night, John Williams and the Boston Pops’ We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Kenny Rogers’ Christmas and Ann Murray’s Christmas Wishes.

Or you could choose some tunes from among this year’s new releases: Alabama, Charlie Pride, Willie Nelson and others together on A Country Christmas; re-released songs by Elvis Presley, Memories of Christmas; Merle Haggard’s Going Home for Christmas; the Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas Album; and Placieo Domingo with John Denver on Christmas with Placieo Domingo.

Several D staff members offered their favorites: Christmas with The Chipmunks, Silent Night-The Greatest Hits of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble’s Festival of Carols in Brass, Perry Como’s Christmas and Christmas at St. John’s by the St. John’s College choir of Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Few people have had the chance to roast chestnuts on an open fire, but there is one Christmas ritual that has become a must for the modern holiday: driving through neighborhoods to view Christmas lights. In Fort Worth, Citran buses do the driving for you; a citywide lights tour costs $2. In Dallas, plan your own route to include some of these traditionally well-decorated areas as well as Highland Park and University Park -always good areas for light-seers.

While in Highland Park, be sure to see Armstrong Parkway – three huge trees are decorated each year with more than 3,000 lights. The tree at the corner of Armstrong and Preston is known as the “Million Dollar Pecan Tree.” It is 117 years old and is covered with 2,000 lights.

There are other light displays in the Turtle Creek area, on Lovers Lane between Abrams and Skillman, and in Richardson on Canyon Creek and Prairie Creek drives. One light spectacular worth the 50-minute drive to Fort Worth is Bal Lake. Take Loop 820 west to Overhill and go to Clayton Road West. Turn right, circle the lake to the left on Rowan. The houses surrounding the lake are decorated with lights that shine on the water.


Puppies and kittens always top the list of fun things to give and receive. However, wrapping the little creatures in gift paper and stashing them under a tree is obviously not the best approach. This year, the Dallas Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is making the giving a little more practical by selling gift certificates. Buy a certificate for $15 to $45 (depending on size and species -dog or cat) and attach it to a stuffed animal, perhaps. The shelter will be open Christmas afternoon so that children can choose their own bundle of joy. 362 S. Industrial. 651-9611.


Without indulging ourselves in any lengthy discourse on the true meaning of Christmas or the virtues of giving rather than receiving.. .we’d like to suggest one more wav to rid yourself of the holiday blues. Take a rare chance to help old Santa out, and look over these Christmas wish lists from children in Dallas institutions.

Buckner Children’s Home, 321-4529: Piano, outdoor slide, clock/radios, popcorn poppers, caps, gloves and scarfs, raincoats, boots and umbrellas.

Hope Cottage Children’s Bureau, 526-8721: Portable sewing machine, bedside lamps, watches, clock/radios, curling irons, blow dryers and toys for infants through age 6.

Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children, 521-3165, ext. 452: Pinball machines and video games, toys for all ages, art and craft materials, Christmas decorations.

Children’s Medical Center, 637-3820, ext. 470: Toys appropriate for inactive children of all ages such as puzzles, games and models; video games, TVs.


Lakewood Christmas Tree Lighting. The Lakewood-Skillman Business Associates and the Lakewood Library will sponsor festivities with Santa December 9 at 6 p.m. at Harrell Park, corner of Gas-ton and Abrams. Free. 821-5173 or 827-8921.

St. Mark’s School. The choir of men and boys will perform “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols,” a musical presentation of the Christmas story beginning with the fall of Adam and ending with the Incarnation. December 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the chapel. 10600 Preston Road. Free.

Plaza of the Americas. As a gift to the city, the hotel is presenting a production of The Nutcracker with the Dallas Ballet and Symphony Orchestra December 5 at 7 p.m. Free.

Southern Methodist University. The university choir and the Perkins School of Theology Singers will present a Christmas service December 2 at 4 and 8 p.m. in Perkins Chapel. The SMU choir and the Mustang Chorale will sing in concert in Caruth Auditorium December 5 at 5 p.m. The lighting of the university Christmas tree, presentation of the Christmas story, lighting of Japanese lanterns and singing of carols will take place in the quadrangle December 5 at 8 p.m.

DeGo/yer Estate Christmas Tours. Walking tours of the estate will be available December 8 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and December 9 and 10 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Different rooms will be decked in the American tradition of Victorian, plantation and Moravian styles. 8525 Garland Road. 324-1401.

Tree Lighting and Musical Ceremony. The City of Dallas Christmas tree will be lighted December 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the corner of Akard and Young, the northwest corner of City Hall Plaza. The Dallas Cowboys Chorus will sing and the North Texas State University Orchestra and Choir will perform Handel’s Messiah. 670-3381.

Dallas Surrey Services. Charles Smith will take Christmas strollers for a ride in his surrey with fringe and all. He takes groups caroling from the Hyatt Regency for $4 to $6 per person, or you can book a private caroling party for $150 an hour, weather permitting. 946-9911.

KIXX for Kids. Radio station KIXX will sponsor a superstar concert with Alabama and Janie Fricke December 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Reunion Arena. Each concert-goer is asked to bring a new toy to be distributed to an underprivileged child in the area. Tickets are free; listen to 106 FM for details.

A Christmas Carol. The fourth-annual Dallas Theater Center production will be presented at Brookhaven Community College Theatre Center December 10, 17, 21, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m.; December 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Lower floor tickets are $12 ($8 for children under 12), balcony $9 ($6 for children under 12). 526-8857 or metro 263-1709.

Tree Lighting and Caroling in Fort Worth. The Texas Boys Choir will lead the singing in Sundance Square December 10 at 7 p.m.

Mitch Miller. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and Texas Wesleyan College will perform “A Prelude to Christmas with Mitch Miller” December 3 at 8 p.m.

Messiah Sing. The audience is invited to sing the more familiar choruses of this composition, but if you plan to sing, bring your own score. A chamber orchestra and organist will accompany, and Scripture readings and soloists will be included. December 12 at 8:15 p.m. University Theatre, University of Texas at Dallas. 690-2982.

Amahl and the Night Visitors. December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12. Performances are at 8:15 Fridays and Saturdays and at p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $3. University Theatre, University of Texas at Dallas 690-2983.

The Nutcracker. Dallas Ballet present! this show every year; it wouldn’t be Christmas without it. December 28, 29, 30, 31 and January 2 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., January 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets $23, $14, $10 and $5. Fair Park Music Hall. 744-4430.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra ana Chorus. Christian Tiemeyer will conduct Handel’s Messiah December 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium at SMU. Tickets for main floor seats are $14 and $10; balcony, $12, $9 and $7. 692-0203.

Christmas International Exhibit and Sounds of Christmas. Area school children display the Christmas decorations of different lands. Choirs, bands and orchestras perform nightly at 7 and 8 p.m., December 1-23. Red Bird Mall, 3662 W. Camp Wisdom Road. 296-1487.

Dallas Girls Chorus Christmas Concert. December 5 at 3 p.m. First Community Church, 6255 E. Mockingbird Lane. December 10 at 8 p.m. in Old City Park.

Contemporary Chorale. Singers will perform at Old City Park’s Candlelight Christmas December 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Thanks-Giving Square. One of the best noontime places to catch the spirit of the season and still be back at work by 1 p.m. December 11 at 3 p.m. the Dallas Catholic Choir will sing in concert. December 12 combined choirs from First Presbyterian Church of Richardson and Rosemont Christian Church in Dallas will sing. December 19 at noon the Turtle Creek Chorale will perform. And perhaps the traditional highlight of the downtown season, noon December 21, 200 tuba players from all across North Texas will gather for an hour of booming Christmas carols.

Richardson Chamber of Commerce. The ll th-annual Santa Claus parade will begin December 4 at 9 a.m. in Richardson Square Mall at Spring Valley and Piano Road. Parade officials are expecting more than 4,000 participants.

Richard Brooks Fabrics Victorian Christmas Gift Shoppe. An assortment of handmade originals -ready-made or ready to take home and put together. Everything from never-worn lace collars collected more than 50 years ago by a little old lady in Hico, Texas, to a gift of fabric suitable for a tailor-made suit.

JSL Fabrics. It’s always hard to shop for Uncle Leroy, but the ladies at JSL promise to share their best ideas. They have unusual gifts on display and the materials and advice you’ll need to make them. 171 Turtle Creek Village. 522-1571.

Open House at the Craft Compound. Stroll through 14 shops and do some Christmas shopping December 5 from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Music, demonstrations and a children’s style show of vintage clothes will be presented by the Samplers Antiques. 6615-17 Snider Plaza. 363-0045.

Christmas Kitchen Gifts. Home economist Beverly Doucette will present cooking ideas for yuletide giving. December 6 at 12:10 p.m. Central Dallas Public Library, 1515 Young. 749-4402.

Highland Park Shopping Village. The village will be lighted and outlined in color. From December 12 through Christmas Eve strolling musicians will be on hand and shops will host open houses with refreshments for shoppers in the afternoons and evenings.


First Baptist Church, Richardson. A children’s choir program, “Why do Bells on Christmas Ring?,” will be presented December 5 at 7 p.m. December 12 at 7 p.m. the adult choir and orchestra will perform Handel’s Messiah. December 19 at 7 p.m. the choirs, including a handbell choir, will play for a candlelight carol service. 300 Phillips. 235-5296.

First United Methodist of Richardson. December 12, all five choirs and a bell choir will be together for a carol service at 7:30 p.m. Christmas Eve services will be held by candlelight at 5:30 and 7 p.m., especially for families with children. At 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., communion will be served and choirs, brass and organ music will be included.

First Baptist Church, Dallas. At least 184 singers will position themselves on First Baptist’s 13-level Christmas tree to present the annual singing Christmas tree concerts December 10 through 15 at 6:30 p.m. Handbell choirs and puppeteers will also participate in the services. Other special services at the church during December include the children’s choir concert December 5 and a candlelight carol service December 19. 742-3111.

First Methodist Church, Fort Worth. Handel’s Messiah will be performed in the church sanctuary December 19 at 7 p.m. On Christmas Eve a ceremony of carols will last from 7 until 11 p.m.

Highland Park United Methodist Church. December 5 at 7:30 p.m. the Celebration Players will present the Christmas story. December 12 at 7:30 p.m. the church will host an Advent vesper service. A carol service will take place December 19 at 7:30. Christmas Eve services are planned at 5, 8 and 11 p.m. 3300 Mockingbird. 521-3111.

Highland Park Presbyterian Church.The church choir will present, with a symphony orchesta. Laud of the Nativity byRespighi and A Day for Dancing, with16th-century carols and dancing, by SMUprofessor Lloyd Pfautsch. The first ofChristmas Eve services begins at 5 p.m.with a program structured for familieswith children. Other services are at 8 and11 p.m. 3821 University. 526-7457.


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