Ok, you’ve decorated the Christmas tree, hung the stockings with care, did most of your holiday shopping and even watched “Steven Colbert’s Christmas Special: The Greatest Gift of All” a couple of times, so now what do you do? Want to get out of the house before the sudden barrage of parties and Christmas guests? Well, here are a few Christmas activities in the St. Louis area that will put you in a holiday mood:
In ancient times, winter was known as the “dark half of the year.” It was a time when there wasn’t very much light and people began to feel what is now known as “seasonal affective disorder.” The absence of sunlight brought on feelings of sadness, despair, and depression. The solution to this problem was to create as much light as possible. That’s how Christmas became the “season of light.” The Christians adopted this by naming Jesus the “light of the world.” The Way of Lights in Belleville’s Our Lady of the Snows Shrine continues its Christmas display through January 4th. In addition to over one million lights and an assortment of displays depicting the story of the birth of Christ, the shrine offers a laser light show, camel rides, petting zoo, silent auction, and a Christmas wreath display this year. In Belleville, Illinois about 20 miles from downtown St. Louis. www.snows.org
At Eckert’s Orchard, also in Belleville, from 8 a.m. till noon throughout the Christmas season, children and their parents can enjoy Breakfast with Santa at the Eckert’s Country Restaurant. At Eckert’s Country Store gingerbread house workshops are scheduled from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. through December 21st. www.eckert’s.com
Santa is a very big, fat man, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day, therefore Santa has to eat a lot of them to get up enough energy to deliver all of those toys in just one night. The annual Breakfast With Santa at the St. Louis Zoo, (314-6466-4857, www.stlzoo.org), will be held on weekends through December 20th. The breakfast includes a visit and a photo with the jolly fat man himself plus ham and cheese or spinach quiche, French toast sticks, sausage links, fresh fruit, and juice and coffee. This year the festival includes costumed characters and free gifts for the kids too. Forever hungry, Santa will also stick around for an Italian dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Parmesan, fettuccini Alfredo, and, Caesar salad. Be sure to call ahead for reservations.
If Christmas really isn’t your holiday, you can attend the Hanukkah Festival at the Jewish Community Center on December 25th, (www.jccstl.org). There you can enjoy potato latkes, sufganiyot (jelly donuts), and bagels. There will also be an old-fashioned olive press demonstration. Guest will also enjoy a menorah and candle making, sports, indoor swimming pool, games, and a dreidel-spinning contest. Hey, beats hanging out at a Chinese restaurant all day.
And finally, if you already miss camping out this holiday season, then you can attend the Outdoor Cooking bash that will be thrown by the Folks at the Columbia Bottoms Conservation Visitors Center. Volunteers and staff will prepare a traditional chuck wagon casserole, rolls, and desert. To work up an appetite, you can explore some of the 4,300-acre park at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The fun begins December 13th at 3 p.m. To make a reservation, call 314-877-6014. www.mdc.mo.gov/areas/bottom